This blog came to be when I realized there was simply not enough information available about cycling in the Milford, Pennsylvania area. With many miles of pavement, gravel roads, and lots of trails, Milford is an ideal cycling spot and a great place for the outdoor enthusiast.
Milford is a historic town that sits in the Delaware Valley in Pike County, along the Delaware River, bordering both New York and New Jersey. Milford has lots of cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops that make it a great place to start or finish a ride.
Stay tuned for lots of articles and photos on gravel rides, road rides, and even some mountain bike rides, all in the Milford area!
As the trails are covered in snow and the roads are still full of salt, I opted to take the Kona Rove on a road ride. In about a month, I will be headed up to Vermont for the Rasputitsa gravel ride. It’s been tough to get many miles in this winter, so I decided that quality miles would be better than quantity today.
I set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and headed over to Milford Hills to climb Skyline Drive. The grade travels skyward for 650 feet in just over 2 miles. Above the tree line, the views of the Delaware Valley are spectacular.
I navigated the 4 switchbacks as I descended back to town, and pedaled over to Greenwood Hills, another private community with very little traffic and alpine type hills. The road surface here is a mix of pavement and gravel. The grade is steep as you gain more than 400 feet of elevation in about 2 miles.
I dropped down again, and rode to Foster Hill (7th Street). The two and a half mile climb to the Malibu Dude Ranch takes every bit of energy I can muster this early in the year. At the top, I was greeted with gunshots from the nearby range, which sounded so close, that I took a quick photo by the lake and scrambled back down the hill.
I recovered well on the descent and attempted to climb up Rt. 6. Well, that didn’t last long, as the wind felt like I was pedaling up and into a wall. Getting nowhere, I decided to call it a day and cruise back to Milford.
Happy with a few thousand feet of elevation, I hope the 45 degree day is a sign of things to come. Lots of adventures planned for the spring and summer, I’ll detail a few gravel rides and bike packing trips in a future post.
This has surely been a week to forget. With about 2 feet of snow dumped on the area last Friday, most, including me, have been without power since.
In rural areas, power outages take on a whole different meaning. With the lack of central water and sewers, we rely on Well water and Septic. When there is no power, septic and water pumps do not operate. Internet went out with the power and cell service lasted 12 hours into the blackout.
Today, we were graced with another foot of snow. You simply have to make the best of it. I was lucky enough to get a little exercise, as I donned the snowshoes for a jaunt through the woods with my son.
No pics of the damage (trees and wires down, cars crushed, homes destroyed). That’s for the news outlets. I just want to hammer home the notion that you have to be prepared. If you have the means, get a generator. Keep 20 gallons of gas on hand, safely away from the house. Store bottled water and canned food. Make sure you have matches and a good old fashioned hardwire telephone. Most times when power goes out, phone lines are in tact.
A wood burning stove is a good idea. I was lucky enough to have a generator that powers my entire home and a wood burning stove with plenty of wood. I owe a huge thank you to a wonderful neighbor that trudged through the snow to turn on the generator for my wife while I was stuck on a closed road for 17 hours. What I lacked was gas. I searched every gas station in the area on Saturday and finally found enough to fill my containers.
This storm claimed many lives and many are still without power or running water. Please, if you know someone that is suffering because of this storm, reach out and help.
It’s no secret that weather patterns are changing. With that said, try to make the best of what Mother Nature serves up.
Although I’ve written about this beautiful swath of land in previous posts, I’ve decided to detail certain rides again in 2018 for new readers. With that said, I consider everything north and east of Rt. 402 to be the northern end of the forest.
This morning, I decided to start at the parking area on Rt. 739. At 40 degrees and sunny, with a warmer outlook, I dressed down and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. From Rt. 739, the gravel surface climbs for about a mile and a half. I zipped through a mix of gravel and mud sections until I reached Bald Hill, one of many communities nestled in the forest. Your climbing needs will certainly be satisfied on Bald Hill as the gravel goes skyward for 1.25 miles, then drops down for 1.5 miles to the end. The hill seems steeper from the back end.
Turning left, back on Five Mile Meadow, I dropped down to Silver Lake Road, turned right and tackled the one paved hill I would see all day. I hung a right into Little Mud Pond, a lakeside community with well groomed gravel roads. A horseshoe that comes right back out, I followed Silver Lake for a mile to Standing Stone Trail.
Pedaling up Standing Stone offers a completely different view from the previous winter. Loggers took out a big portion of trees, changing the landscape along the right side of the road. The forest is dotted with hunting cabins, some merely shacks, but some have a real rustic appeal.
After 2 miles, you drop into a creek crossing. It’s very rideable and a lot of fun with a little speed coming off the hill. At the end of Standing Stone, I turned right on Five Mile Meadow, rode up about 2 miles and made another right onto Ben Bush Road, a new road built by the loggers over an old snowmobile trail.
Ben Bush Road loops back around to Standing Stone Trail. I guess I just wanted to rip through the creek one more time. A left on Five Mile Meadow and before I knew it, I was climbing back up for a mile plus, before descending back to the parking area.
It warmed up to the mid 50’s by the time I finished, so I was glad I left the jacket in the car. Except for 1.75 miles of pavement on Silver Lake Road, the rest of this Ride was on gravel. Well, gravel and mud.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Kinks – Lola
The following is a guest spot from Brian with some gorgeous pics to help get us through the winter!
Sometimes an offer is just too good to pass up. So, when a local like-minded cycling/hiking/skiing/beer tasting friend tells me about this great blog he reads and there’s this contest to submit a bicycling photo and win a pair of Tifosi cycling glasses, I started looking through my photos. Having nothing to lose, and a cool new pair of glasses to possibly gain, I started following the blog and entered Robert’s contest. I won, and so thanks are in order to all of you who voted for my image of my bike leaning on a Bucks County covered bridge on a snowy day. And, bigger thanks are in order to Robert for hosting the blog, and the contest.
Summer, 2017…. A childhood friend of mine that I grew up with in southeastern PA is closing in on his 50th birthday at the end of January, 2018. Jon moved to San Diego nearly 20 years ago because he “hates the cold”. For fun, we’d been messaging back and forth about a bicycle vacation to Portland, OR, or some such location, but nothing ever gelled. Then, out of the blue, he sends me an email and invites me to go on a cycling vacation with him to a warm destination and celebrate his milestone birthday with him. Having visited him several times in San Diego in years past, it wasn’t hard for him to set the hook. It is beautiful there, which is why so many cyclists choose to train there year round. We quickly narrowed down our choices to somewhere in Arizona, or maybe try out an all-inclusive 4 day tour with Trek Travel in Solvang, CA. Since it was his birthday, I let him choose and so we booked our 4 day Ride Camp with Trek Travel to Solvang for the end of January into the beginning of February, 2018. We figured it would be nicer to just let someone else handle all the details and that way we’d end up spending less time fretting over minutia and more time having fun on 2 wheels. Jon knows I ride all year in PA, as does he in San Diego and so we knew we’d be fit enough to put in some big mile days together this early in the year.
Some background on Solvang…it is a small city in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, known for its Danish style architecture. The area outside of town is full of hills, vineyards, horse and cattle farms and agriculture. It definitely has a tourism driven economy, and so it caters to showing out-of-towners a good time. We stayed at the Hotel Corque, which was very comfortable for our time there. There are tons of shops and restaurants, a totally awesome motorcycle museum, places to do wine tastings, and Firestone Walker Brewing is only 3 miles down the road in Buellton. Yes, we went there. Mmmmm, beer. Since Trek Travel pretty much handles everything except your transportation to and from Solvang, we just had to drive up from San Diego after I arrived from frigid PA. The package included lodging, nearly all food, bikes and helmets and a Garmin with all routes pre-loaded, two guide hosts to show you around and ride with you, and a Trek Travel support van to refuel from or drop clothes in as the day warmed up. The riding was very enjoyable with high temp’s around 80* every day, along with mostly sunny skies. It was a wonderful mid-winter reprieve for me to go someplace warm, be with my friend, meet some new folks and put in some miles. We rode 4 consecutive days totaling about 165 miles and then said goodbye to our hosts and Solvang. I booked a few extra days to spend back in San Diego with Jon and his family, and so a day later we put in a beautiful road ride through Rancho Santa Fe which included some coast time. My friend Dawn, also formerly from PA drove from Upland, CA to come see me and joined us on the last ride. A good week indeed, as Jon and I ended at just over 200 miles each. I landed back in Philadelphia on the eve of the Super Bowl, and as I drove home to Upper Bucks County all I could think about was how much I wasn’t enjoying driving in the ice storm that fell that evening. It was sunny and warm just a few hours earlier that same day…on the other coast.
A couple of weeks ago, that dreaded groundhog saw his shadow. Whether that means six more weeks of winter or not, I truly do not know. What I do know is that these past few days have been warm, 50’s and 60’s. With a snow storm looming for Saturday night, the pressure was on to get a ride in.
Being sick since late January, has kept me off the bike. Feeling weak, with constant headaches and swollen legs, has kept me on the shelf and not thinking I could ride, until today. I peeled myself off the couch and ventured out for a short spin. I’m glad I did. With a 60 degree day, snow and ice disappeared and water was everywhere.
Streams and creeks appeared in culverts and roads. It was a lot of fun. The pace was slow, the bike got real dirty and my backside got wet. I hope this is a sign of things to come. I would like to stop talking about how cold it’s been and start detailing new rides and adventures.
Whats playing, (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Foreigner – Feels Like the First Time
It’s been awhile. Although I have been riding, my tolerance for single digit pedaling has weened to about once a week. After a warm autumn, winter hit the tri-state area with temperatures hovering around 0 for nearly 3 1/2 weeks. The last week or so, it’s been getting warmer and with a 45 degree day, yesterday, it was game on for a rip down the McDade Trail.
I met up with Eric at Dingman Falls. We jumped across Rt. 209 and headed south towards Bushkill. The recent rains and 2 days of thaw, melted just about every bit of snow and ice that’s covered the trail for the last month or so.
However, the ice chunks that sit between the Delaware River and the McDade Trail, at the Bushkill Boat Access, was absolutely amazing.
After a strong ride to Bushkill, I bonked on the way back. Probably overdressed and under hydrated. No matter, it was still amazing to be able to get out there and turn the pedals for a couple of hours.
When temperatures reach the freezing levels, keeping your bike clean never seems to be easy. This winter in particular has presented riders with sub-zero tempts, throughout the northeast, midwest and abroad.
In past years, I would fill my wife’s largest pot with water from the kitchen sink, drench my bike out on the driveway, soap it up, brush and rinse. With hose bibs shut off this time of year, we are left with few options to keep the road salt, mud, snow and ice off our steeds.
Recently, a couple of local riders have brought their bikes inside and cleaned them in the shower, which I’m sure is probably very effective. However, I don’t think I’m the only one to say, that would not go over well in my house.
Another option, which I’ve tried, is the self service car wash. Again, effective, but with two drawbacks. The high pressure hose, if not kept far from bike can damage paint and small parts as well as get into bottom bracket shells, head tubes and hubs. This can cause all sorts of issues that quite frankly, you want to avoid. Also, the hot water at the car wash freezes in colder temps before you can dry your bike off. You need to get at least the salt off your bike, what to do?
Through internet research and trial and error, I’ve found a better way. Not full Proof, but a cleaner, more precise method of cleaning your bike, far from a hose or electricity. Simply fill a 2 gallon pressurized sprayer with warm water, wet bike down, spray on some bike wash, I like Finish Line Super Bike Wash, scrub bike and rinse.
The pressure is not high enough to damage your bike, but effective enough to clean it off. You can do this in your garage, basement, driveway or before you leave the trail.
After you fully clean and dry off your bike, don’t forget to lube your chain. Liberally pour on chain lube as you back pedal and run through all your gears. Then, back pedal again, as you hold rag to bottom of chain to get the excess off. Give it a try, it has worked great for me!
Year end posts should not be about what a remarkable year you had. Instead, they should celebrate all you’ve learned in the previous 12 months and how you can use that to be a better person and make a more positive impact. Taken from the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, I like to remind myself and arrogantly others, “be the village”. You see, for years, I have thought of myself as the village. Someone who is so above help that I pass judgement on those who seek out and accept help. In reality, I’ve just been fortunate in some areas of my life.
That said, Happy New Year!
2017 was a year of fantastic riding. We had our first hill climb challenge, road a lot of dirt and gravel and I really learned to appreciate any time I can be on a bike.
In 2018, we are going to put together Some cool new challenges to keep everyone riding strong. Another hill climb challenge, an off road challenge and maybe a 30 day mileage goal. While a challenge really keeps you motivated and pushes you to reach new heights, just riding your bike on most days is enough!
So, enjoy your day of rest today and get back on your bike soon!
I leave you with a pic of what hopefully your future rides do not look like or maybe they should!
When the days are short and the nights are long, the weather dictates when and where your outdoor activities take place. Two days before winter starts, and the temperature jumped from below freezing to 51 degrees. Having had two snowfalls already, I was fully prepared to break out the snow shoes.
With Hanukkah over today and Christmas, Kwanza and Festivus right around the corner, family obligations and holiday preparations take center stage when not at work.
But, since this is a cycling blog, you know I found a window to get outside and pedal. I attempted to roll into the Delaware State Forest, but with little sunshine in the woods, the roads were still pretty iced over. So, I simply hit every back road in my community that I could find.
It looks like the weather will stay somewhat warm throughout the weekend. Before winter prevails, I hope to get a few more rides in. Mtb, gravel or road doesn’t matter. What bike I ride is of little importance. I simply enjoy being able to ride this late in the year. I hope you get to ride as well.
Entertaining the notion that riding outdoors ends in the fall, is sort of giving in to Mother Nature. Well, that’s easy to say, when the temperatures in late November, early December are still in the 40’s. Anyway, I thought that it would be a good time to get in some road rides, mountain bike rides and gravel adventures.
I started on Tuesday with a commute to work. When I left my house, it was 19 degrees. I layered up and dealt with the wind. I was just happy to be on my bike.
On Wednesday, I did a unique ride, mixing in some gravel, pavement, dirt and grass. It was 50 degrees and I took full advantage, riding in shorts and shortsleeves. I rode up to Five Mile Meadow Road, grinded through the loose, new gravel until I heard the first gunshot. I thought I’d leave the hunters alone and head back into the community for an unauthorized spin through Seneca Lake Park.
I had a few extra hours on Thursday morning, so I looped around my community on the road bike, hitting every hill I could find.
On Friday, my son joined me for a mtb ride through the Watershed. Another 50 degree day, allowed us to dress down and enjoy a few hours of rocks, roots and beautiful singletrack.
Saturday morning brought some gravel grinding through the Delaware State Forest with Andrew. This time, I opted for a mostly orange getup. Action Bikes and Outdoor, produces an orange jersey each year, making it easy to get out in the wild, during hunting season.
On Sunday evening, my son and I went back into the Delaware State Forest for a spin under the stars, powered by our Bontrager Ion 800 headlights. A full moon helped illuminate the woods. We took a couple of cool new roads that I’ll detail in a later post.
Monday morning was cold. 20 degrees at 6:30am. I grabbed a quick ride on gravel, dirt and grass. The hill I’ve been practicing my grass descents on, was covered with a thin layer of frost, making for a few slippery ups and downs. Easy to deal with, when the fog is burning off the lake at the top of he hill.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – The Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (1981)
Because I’m a boob, I have not figured out how to upload a photo in comments. So, since I can’t remember how I received photos last year, you can send any photo/submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry for the confusion, I’ll get it right by next year.
So, get outside and ride. Do not let the weather keep you from turning those pedals and take lots of pictures!
It’s that time of year again. Riding Milford’s 2nd annual photo contest. To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the blog and to recognize how beautifully cycling and photography go hand in hand.
You see, there are cyclists who ride to simply go fast, and while there is certainly a place for that, a lot of us are now simply riding for escape and adventure. We slow down to take in the sights, explore new paths and record our rides a different but not unique way, in photographs. We post them on social media for all the world to see. And for that we are lucky. Lucky to get a look at what someone else experienced. Lucky to reach out and let that person know how beautiful their ride was.
To enter the contest, comment to this post, with a photo of your bicycle in nature by 8:00pm on Sunday, December 19th. The winner will receive a pair of Tifosi Crit, Fototec sunglasses in Crystal Black (an $80 value).
Each year, it seems, we get treated to something different. This year, summer lasted until mid October. I’m not complaining. However, with Halloween just a few days away, we need more than just a few leaves to fall.
Most places are beautiful in the fall. Milford and the surrounding area benefit from sitting between the Catskills and Pocono Mountains and along the Delaware River, making for a gorgeous place to pedal.
If you want to see for yourself, get out on the McDade Trail, ride through Peter’s Valley via Old Mine Road, climb up to High Point or traverse the many gravel roads that make up the State and National forests that encompass our region. If you ride a mountain bike or want to learn, look no further than the Port Jervis Watershed Trails. Fall can be seen here at its fullest, with vibrant colors reflecting off the 3 reservoirs, creating a magical atmosphere.
Oh, and the trails are second to none. Visit Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford for large scale paper maps with color coded trails to guide you along. A ride up to the Hawk’s Nest on Rt. 97 provides breathtaking views of fall foliage along the river and Route 6 in Pike County has far from a shortage of colorful places to enjoy all that fall has to offer.
After your ride, sample the many cafes and restraunts throughout the Delaware Valley. It’s a great way to cool down, reflect and replenish.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – American Girl
Hi folks, this is guest blogger Mike. I’m a riding buddy of Rob’s and he asked me to share an experience my wife and I had last week riding the GAP. For those of you who live in Milford, PA, when someone refers to the “GAP” you know they are talking about the Delaware Water Gap. To those in southwestern PA, the GAP is the Great Allegheny Passage, a nearly 150 mile rail to trail biking and hiking route that retraces the former B+O Railroad line through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA.
The start in Cumberland, MD
The GAP today uses the series of tunnels, bridges and viaducts that were built in the early 1900’s to connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. A separate trail, the 185 mile long C+O Canal Trail, connects Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The GAP trail fully opened in 2013 after years of work rebuilding the tunnels and bridges, and then paving the entire trail with crushed limestone. The last 15 miles of the trail into Pittsburgh are paved with asphalt. Logistically, the GAP is very easy to access and travel on. Each town that the trail passes through has parking and toilets for day riders. Some towns have water fountains available and
a few even have a small bike repair stand fully equipped with tools and tire pumps. Each mile of the trail is marked with a concrete post so you always know how far along you are. There are also dozens of campgrounds along the way for those who chose to camp vs. staying in hotels or Bed and Breakfast Inn’s. Many of the campgrounds are free for bikers and are even stocked with free ﬁrewood. The larger towns on the GAP have B+B’s that specifically cater to cyclist. There are also many outﬁtters that will plan your entire trip, complete with a guided support vehicle so all you need to do is pedal to the next destination. Amtrak also operates the “Capital” Line which has a train car with a bike storage room that stops in Pittsburgh, Connellsville, PA, and Cumberland to transport you and your bike before or after the ride.
My wife and I decided to try this ride the ﬁrst week of October to take advantage of the fall foliage and the cooler riding temperatures. We started in Cumberland, which was about a 300 mile drive from Milford. There are a few hotels in Cumberland near the trailhead and they all cater to the cyclists. We were allowed to bring our bikes into our room. There is also free parking near the trailhead, under the interstate overpass, and it was a safe place to leave your car for a week. There is also a local bike shop only a few yards from the start just in case of any last minute adjustments or needed supplies. The National Park Service has an information
center at the trailhead with maps of the trail and brochures of each town along the way to Pittsburgh.
I planned our trip to ride a total of 4 days, with a day off in the middle. My wife is a novice rider and had never ridden further than 30 miles in one day. She had no problems conquering the GAP. The trail is nearly ﬂat with the exception of the ﬁrst 23 miles from Cumberland to the Eastern Continental Divide. The total climb to the Divide was 1800 feet with a nearly constant grade of only 1.6%. My wife handled the climb without any difﬁculty. The scenery was breathtaking and we stopped several times for photo ops. We stayed the ﬁrst night in Myersdale, PA (32 miles). Our B+B was one block from the trail and had secure bike storage in the basement. We met several other riders during our stay and had fun exchanging stories.
Myersdale, PA The second day was an equally scenic ride to Ohiopyle, PA (40 miles). We spent an extra day here to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” and also to do some hiking around the Youghiogheny River. Ohiopyle is also a great place to do some white water rafting on a day off. The 3rd day of riding followed the “Yough” to West Newton, PA (42 miles). The rain was off and on this day which made for a muddy ride, but the scenery was still amazing. My wife’s bike had
a minor mechanical issue we were able to get ﬁxed in Connersville at a bike shop right on the trail.
The ﬁnal day to Pittsburgh (35 miles) saw the trail change from a scenic ride in the woods to an urban feel the ﬁnal 15 miles. Multiple bridges over the Monongahela River made for several more photo ops with the city of Pittsburgh in the background. Our son, who is a student at the University of Pittsburgh, joined us on his bike for the ﬁnal 7 miles to Point State Park, where the GAP ends. This is where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio River. After an evening in Pittsburgh, we rode the Amtrak “Capital” back to Cumberland to retrieve our car.
Overall we had an amazing experience on this ride and would deﬁnitely do it again. It is something that even a novice rider could do easily. Meeting other cyclists along the way was one of the highlights of the trip. As for the song that would best describe this journey…. it would have to be “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes”!!! For more info on the GAP visit: http://www.GAPtrail.org
Autumn has decided to play hard to get. With the unseasonably warm weather hanging around, why not find time for extra miles? All I can think about is which bike to ride!
Our time is valuable. When you get a chance to get outdoors, make it count. Go out one day and just ride for hours. Ride as far as your legs will take you. Ride a road bike on a dirt road, a hybrid or cyclocross bike on a mountain bike trail or a Mtb on the street.
Forget everything and just pedal. Take pictures, get a flat, change your tube, finish your ride. Get dirty out there. Ride through the mud, the rain, the snow, the wind or whatever Mother Nature has to throw at you!
Stay up late and map out a ride or just read a shitty novel and wing it the next day. Either way, ride your bike. Ride to the cafe, the pizza parlor or the tavern. Fill up on whatever delights you, then ride some more. Get a headlight and ride at night.
Every now and then, I’m off the bike for a few days to a week for whatever reason. The first ride back always feels like the best ride of the year. You get the idea, just get out there and pedal!
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Pretenders – Middle of the Road
Last year, I wrote in detail about what a wonderful event the Maple City Century turned out to be. Based in Honesdale, PA, the event offers rides of 30, 62 and 100 miles, all on gravel and dirt roads with a little pavement thrown in to connect the sections, What I didn’t tell you was that this grass-roots gravel ride, is a family run event. Zach Wentzel, the founder and director, operates with a tight knit and dedicated crew. He, his wife Stacy and his parents are intimately involved and it shows. All riders and staff are treated like first class passengers on their flight around Wayne County.
Zach and Stacy personally sign everyone in at the registration table. After a pre-ride meeting, the 100 milers are sent off with a Police escort out of Honesdale and onto some of the nicest gravel roads in the northeast. An hour later, the 62 and 30 mile riders receive the same send off.
This is my third year doing the 100 mile ride and I have seen the route, which is marked with clear color coded arrows for each distance, gets better each time. The aid stations are well stocked and staffed by the friendliest volunteers, who encourage the riders and supply them with a wide variety of fuel, ranging from water, Pb&j & Nutella, Gatorade, fruit, pickles, packaged energy bars, and homemade goodies in sandwich bags.
Zach took matters into his own hands, taking over photographer duties this year and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Stacey was everywhere on the course, making sure riders had a safe passage back to Honesdale.
Riding with Eric and Darin proved to be the right call, as they motivated me to drink and waited at the top of the hills amid unseasonably hot temperatures. We hit Brown Trout Trail, a 5 mile section of rocks and roots, that as I explained last year, is anything but easy. However, the waterfall and creek crossing were rather dry, enabling you to ride right through it.
After stopping as rest stop 2, you could really feel the heat and the hills. The cold Coca Cola and pickles helped me forget about the pain. Pedaling out, we hit a series of hills that seemed to go on forever, a tradition of sorts at Maple City; rest, then climb again. As we approached rest stop 3 at 75 miles, I saw the Action Bikes and Outdoor tent from around the corner and it was like I was wandering in the desert and found an oasis.
Mike and John were awesome, they fed us everything we could eat and after packing up, they caught up and provided an escort complete with lights as we struggled through the last few hills in the dark. At the finish, Zach was there waiting to hand us our gold medals, the well earned traditional finisher’s MCC beer growlers. Which are happily filled at the post ride host, the Irving Cliff Brewery.
There are so many big endurance events out there and some claim to be grass roots, while they continue to grow and make registration a lottery. The Maple City Century is truly a grass roots event that I hope grows, but feels more like a hometown ride that will be on my calendar for years to come, although the Metric Century might be next years best course of action for me. Check out some more pics from this really cool event:
Let me start by saying that riding with and doing support for so many fantastic people for the last 16 years has been a blessing. At the banquet, the previous night, I was honored as the founder of the ride. I was given a plaque and a mtb wheel with a plaque on the inset, expertly fabricated by Eric Swanson of Adventure Cycling in Aurora, CO. I accept these, knowing that Mike and Mike have carried me for many years.
With that said, let’s get to the ride. We started from the Sheraton in Melville, NY and rode down Rt. 25 through urban Nassau County for 22 miles to the Floral Park Municipal Field, where lunch was served (The Nassau County Police Department expertly blocked all intersections to Floral Park). Seems like a short distance for lunch, but the rest of he day’s events were going to be slow as we were escorted as a group to the finish.
From Floral Park, the NYPD took over the escort and wow, were we treated like dignitaries. Eight motorcycles blocked every intersection, through Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan. Then the challenging part came when the streets of lower Manhattan, so congested at 1:30pm on a Tuesday, were turned into the Tour de Force Expressway. Motorcycles roared, helicopters soared and every rider and support team member, were cheered on by the thousands watching and patiently waiting to go about their day.
We paused briefly in front of the still boarded and fenced Ground Zero for a moment of silence. The Freedom Tower, although not a replacement for the Twin Towers, looked glorious in the September sky.
Arriving at Wagner Park, in Battery Park, we were treated to numerous Mounted Poilce Officers, guarding the mezzanine aboard their loyal steeds.
In the Hudson, just behind the park were the NYPD Harbour Patrol boats as Police helicopters hovered overhead. A welcome home for some, a hero’s send off for others. You see, many of our riders and support team come from all over the country.
These were and are an amazing 4 days of cycling. We cannot forget the victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. You are all in our prayers. We cannot wait until next year when we welcome back all our riders that had to back out because of the recent storms. Your presence was sorely missed.
I leave you with some more photos of this incredible 4 day journey.
The day started with a ferry ride from New London, Ct to Orient Point, NY. After unloading bikes and some last minute prep, riders pedaled through the amazing Long Island wine country, with a first rest stop at the Greenport Harbour Brewing Company and although not recommended, I’m sure more than a few riders indulged.
With about 65 miles left, the ride winded down Rt. 25 through some of the most beautiful fishing towns on the island. Lunch was served at Fink’s Farm in Calverton, NY by John Carro and owners, Dave and Michelle. who served up hero’s reminiscent of John’s former deli, the Steer Seller.
Every day’s ride on the Tour de Force ends with a story. Each rider finishes day 3 with a medal and the memories of a ride with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Two survivors, Mimi and Mikayla, were at the finish line, handing out medals. At our banquet that night, we honored them, and recognized their truly beautiful efforts to pay it forward.
You see, nine years ago, we made a donation to Mimi to honor her husband, Perth Amboy, NJ Police Officer Thomas Raji, who was killed in the line of duty. She was pregnant with Mikayla. A few months ago, while eating in a restaurant, Mikayla noticed a Police Officer eating alone. She struck up a conversation with him and asked her mom to pay for his dinner. Mimi did just that and asked the owner not to tell him. The Officer found out that Mimi and Mikayla paid for his dinner. He arranged for MiKayla to throw out the 1st pitch at a NY Yankee game. Seeing this, we knew that Mikayla had to be honored in front of our riders. Speaking with Mimi, she explained that we were the first organization to come to her aid and she purchased her husbands headstone with funds from our donation. This is truly a family that suffered a tradgedy, received a few random acts of kindness and paid it forward.
We had two more special guests. You can read about their amazing story on Facebook at the Tour de Force 911 Memorial Bike Ride page.
Some more photos from an incredible day of cycling:
Life is great on the Tour de Force. Let me explain: First, there is no better group of people than those that put others before themselves. Second, every TDF rider and Support team member, quickly become family. You can’t avoid it. Once you put on the TDF garb ( jersey), it just happens.
Today, started in Warwick, RI and took us 75 miles through the heart of New England. Today was my day to ride. As I have explained before, the logistics just do not allow the organizers to get on a bike and forget absolutely everything else in our lives for four days. Days 2 and 3 allow riders to wear what ever jerseys they wish. Some form teams and represent with custom jersey designs. I choose to wear TDF jerseys from years past.
The route carried riders through some as of the most gorgeous landscape that New England has to offer. Narragansett and Watch Hill are two of the nicest beach front communities on the east coast.
All photos during the 4 day ride are taken by Diane, our photographer. She has made life easy for us. Diane always seems to be there to get the important shots. She uploads to Facebook on the tourdeforce 9/11 Memorial Ride page. The weather was pretty good today, minus the wind. All 247 riders made it safely to the finishing line.
Last year, I had the pleasure to detail the events that led to the creation of the Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Ride, which raised money for first responders killed in the 9/11 attacks and ultimately led to raising money for the families of Police Officers killed in he line of duty, nationwide.
This year, the tour will go from Boston to NYC. This morning, it started at the Boston Marathon finish line in the city’s Copley Square district. After an expertly executed escort by the Boston Police Department’s Motorcycle unit, riders made their way to the Denham, MA American Legion for the first of 3 rest stops. From there, they were released at their own pace. Support vehicles made their way to the front, along the route and a trail vehicle followed the last rider.
With near perfect weather, the day was something the riders would not soon forget. The miles clicked by rapidly as the terrain was as flat as any day pedaling out of Boston can be.
Most of the route went through urban areas, saving the beautiful scenery of New England for tomorrow and traveled through numerous traffic circles, eventually finishing in an undisclosed location, 60ish miles from the start.
All riders finished safely, with the help of our amazing support team. 42 men and women from around the country, filled coolers, setup rest stops, directed traffic, fixed flats and kept this ride moving forward for the 16th consecutive year.
Stay tuned tomorrow as I detail my one day on the bike through the incredible Rhode Island and Connecticut countryside.
On Monday, Mike H. and I traveled to Boston to nail down a few last details, with a week to go before the Tour de Force. Last September, I detailed this 4 day journey that took us from Washington, DC to NYC.
Most of the logistics and planning are done from my home office here in Milford, giving me the notion that it’s ok to tell you all about it. This year’s ride will take 300 riders from Boston to NYC.
Although the event is completely supported, riders, at their own pace, follow the route, each day to the host hotel. With that in mind, as we left Boston on Tuesday, we drove the first two days of the route, painting arrows leading up to and through each turn.
This is one of the most important tasks when planning an organized group ride. It’s the best way to mark the course. The paint adheres to the pavement and last for about 3 months. Most cyclists will see a painted arrow. Signs have a tendency to be removed or blow away in the wind. We pre-ride the course each morning to double check the arrows and repaint if necessary.
This is the 16th year that my brother Mike, my friend Mike and myself have organized this ride. I get just as excited leading up to the event as I did in 2002. You can check out our website at WWW.tourdeforceny.com. I will detail each days ride, starting on September 9th.
Sometimes you learn a new route and fall in love. Matt told me about a ride he did with his dad last week. Being a mostly gravel route, I have to say it peaked my interest. Yesterday afternoon, I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor to make a trip from the shop to the Buckhorn Fire Tower.
We departed at 5pm, zig zagged out of town and climbed up Rt. 6 to Schocopee Road. Schocopee is a newly paved road that continues to go skyward, especially as you bear right onto Fire Tower Road, where he gravel starts.
We took Fire Tower Road until it ended in a gravel parking lot. About a half mile before the lot is a left on Buckhorn Ridge Trail. A short trip on the trail and you’re at the Fire Tower. I’m not sure if this relic is still in use. It’s pretty wobbly and most of the nearby pine trees sit a bit higher than the tower, blocking views of he forest. From the looks of things, this was quite a party spot, some time ago.
We descended back down to Schocopee Road, made a right and climbed up to Lily Pond. This section of Schocopee is gravel, pave, gravel, as it dips and rises through the forest, bringing you to a beautiful park. You could ride around the lake, although time did not allow it.
We did a lot of climbing on our way up to the fire tower and again as we reached Lily pond, so you can imagine just how delightful the descent back to town was! We ripped down to Rt. 6 and cut through Old Owego Road as we snaked through town and back to the shop.
No music today, just some more pics of the his really pretty area.
With the Maple City Century quickly approaching, Eric, Darin and I took advantage of the unseasonably cool, late August weather and grinded out a 40ish mile gravel ride. Starting just after dawn gives you enough time to get miles in and still have most of the day with the family.
We Pedaled out of Dingman Falls and over the Dingman Bridge. Needless to say, it was quite foggy. We climbed just above Peter’s Valley and dumped into the gravel section of Old Mine Road. Besides the many potholes and puddles, this a very fun section. Downhill on gravel for the better part of 6 miles, makes riding along the Delaware River a cool experience.
We turned left on Pompey Road, climbed up, making a left into Ridge Road, a dirt trail littered with rocks and roots for the first mile. It then turns to high weeds on a broken up double track (leaving spools of grass in cassettes and around pedal spindles).
Ridge Road comes out onto Thunder Mountain Road. The transition from overgrown forest to gravel road was sort of a relief. After 45 minutes, you realize you only went 3 miles. Bonus, the fog was burned off by the bright sun, one day before the solar eclipse. Thunder Mountain runs up to Kuhn Road and right through the heart of the Peter’s Valley School of Craft. We turned right on Kuhn and left on Walpack Road, over the hill and back over the Dingman Bridge.
Back at the cars, we changed out our water bottles and headed down to the McDade trail for the 2nd part of the ride. About 2 miles in, a half eaten fish falls from the sky, or the trees. Darin spotted an Eagle that flew directly above us and over the river. Apparently, we interrupted the eagles’ breakfast.
We continued at a pace that was probably too fast for me, but I needed the punishment. We arrived at the Bushkill Boat Access and after a brief rest, turned around and rode a torrid pace back to our cars. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones enjoying this beautiful day. There seemed to be quite a few people hiking, bird watching and trail running.
This is not the first time I’ve pedaled either of these routes, but I never put them together before and I’m glad we did. By he way, most photos while riding are taken by Eric, who always seems to have his phone on the ready!
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Jigsaw – (you’ve blown it all) Sky High
Having been caught out on the trail or the road, too many times after the sun has gone down, I’ve had to use a head light to find my way. My old light, while powerful, was wired to a battery pack, that was stashed under the stem. Bulky and cumbersome.
I recently acquired a Bontrager Ion 800 RT and put it to immediate use. I went out for an evening gravel ride from Milford, down the McDade Trail and up through both sections of Zimmerman Farm. I cruised down Rt. 209 and back on the McDade for a few miles before turning around and retracing the route. By time I hit Zimmerman Road, it was pretty dark. I clicked on the Ion 800 RT, and was surprised at how well it lit up he trail. I cruised Zimmerman, Rt. 209, McDade and back through town with complete confidence.
The next day, I did a morning road ride and used the Ion 800 RT’s daytime flashing mode. This unique function can be seen from over 1.5 KM away. Critical when riding on busy streets. Let’s face it, most people text and drive. There are so many distractions to keep driver’s from seeing everything in the roadway. We wear helmets to protect our heads in the event of a crash, Why not give yourself the best chance to avoid that crash!
The following was taken from Trek’s website:
Transmitr remote displays battery status indicating when charge is needed
See with our focused optics and over 270 degrees of visibility
800 Lumens via high-power CREE LED
800LM-1.5hrs, 450LM-3hrs, 200LM-6hrs, night flash-20hrs, day flash 20hrs
Fully charges in 6 hours through sealed Micro USB port
Includes 20 degree +/- adjustable Sync bracket that fits bars from 22.2-35.0mm
Blendr compatible, secure bar mount available
The Ion 80 RT is a nice compliment to the Flare R tail light. Both have night time as well as day time modes. To boot, the Ion 800 RT weighs much less than most head lights. I am extremely pleased and will use daytime modes whenever I’m on a paved roadway.
About a 40 minute drive from Milford, sits Stewart State Forest, known to many as the Stewart Buffer Land. Matt and I decided to make the trip east on Rt. 84 yesterday (with a pit stop at Arlene and Tom’s Restaurant in Port Jervis to fuel up) for what proved to be a really nice day out on the trails.
There are a few designated parking areas. We decided to make Weed Road our base camp. We started out on the Orchard Trail and did not see a rock or root all the way to Giles Road. We jumped over to Rock Wall Trail and found out quickly how it got it’s name. In the first half mile, you traverse 4 rock walls, and yeah, the rocks and roots appeared.
We followed Rock Wall to Mid Earth to New Road. We made a left on White Cloud Trail, climbed a few hundred feet and dropped back down through the wetlands and back up to Bypass Trail and over to Windsor Trail. Looping back to Weed Road we pedaled up the gravel hill and back to the parking area for lunch.
After a couple of pb&j sandwiches, we headed back down Weed Road, hungry for more singletrack. We found a jewel! Causeway Trail to Shields Trail to Drakes Trail is like a deep forest pump track. Hoping over to Mid Earth, we crossed New Road and took Senior to Waterfall.
Waterfall really tests you. It’s a little bit technical singletrack and a little bit hike a bike, up rock formations that appear like waterfalls. We followed Waterfall to Prime to Sara’s Way to Windsor Trail and back to New Road. New Road becomes Weed Road as we pedaled into the parking area. At a high of 74 degrees, we were treated to a beautiful day for what turned out to be a wonderful ride.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Santana – Evil Ways
July’s hill climbing challenge did just what it was designed to do, get you out there pedaling. Ok, we’ll get me out there pedaling. A couple other local riders nailed it as well. Congratulations go out to Bill and Eric. They will drink from their well earned Riding Milford/Action Bikes and Outdoor, ceramic coffee mugs. I will too, although I snatched my mug as soon as they arrived.
Just to show how a goal can push you, here are a few stats from the month of July that are attributable to the hill challenge:
Bill, finished the challenge in only 11 days.
The three riders that finished the challenge, logged a total of 1,266 miles and 88,562 feet of elevation.
Pretty good for a few middle aged men!
Unfortunately, I’m going to suspend the challenge. I do not want anyone getting hurt while climbing up hills and hammering down the other side. We will think up another way to get you outside and on your bike, soon. Until then, ride on!
On Tuesday, I traveled to Mountain Creek Park in Vernon, NJ, with Matt and Alec for the Cycling Sports Group Connection. It’s Cannondale’s debut of their 2018 models along with offerings and tech from Fabric, Sugoi and Sombrio. The event was open to dealers and industry professionals, nationwide.
Cannondale really knocked it out of the park with presentations of their new lineup. They introduced the Evo, CAADX, SuperX, Touring, Trail, Trigger, Scalpel, Bad Habit, Cujo, Quick, Quick Neo and Moterra and very cool kids bikes. Emphasis was on the new Synapse and all the tech that went into designing the new crown jewel of their lineup. By design, they did a good job not explaining what the SE in some of their models names’ stands for.
Fabric showed off all their new tools, pumps, lights and bottles. Their saddles were the main focus of the presentation. Sugoi and Sombrio showed off their new lines as well.
Around 11:30am, we were invited into the showroom for a question and answer session in front of the entire lineup. After a terrific lunch, we headed outside for the grand prize! A chance to ride everything Cannondale brought. And oh, they brought just about every new model in a full run of sizes.
First, we took the ski lift to the top and ripped down the other side of the mountain on the gravel road on 3 extremely smooth Slates. No full review on a bike I rode for only 6 miles, but, wow, you could ride this bike anywhere, over anything! A quick jaunt around town on the Synapse left us feeling good, but we were at Mountain Creek, time to ride some single track.
Alec grabbed a Bad Habit, Matt took a Trigger and I hopped on a Scalpel. We picked a fairly easy trail and made our way down the mountain. I won’t name anyone here, but there was a crash, not by me as I exercised caution or fear, and burned off a good amount of brake pad. At the bottom, we were alerted that it was time to start bringing the bikes in, so we opted for one more ride up the mountain and dropped down again before retiring to the beer garden.
As a part time bike shop employee, this is not the type of event I would normally get an invite to. So, I made the most of it and was in no hurry to leave. At 8:30pm, we drove back to Milford, fulfilled. I leave you with a few pics of this awesome event!
On Sunday, the old men set out at for what ended up being an 80 mile ride. Mike, Steve, Joe, Kevin and myself (maybe, not so old men) left Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6:25am, amidst the fog and humidity.
We pedaled down Rt 209/6, hung a left on Mountain Avenue and right at the river, crossed the Port Jervis Bridge and rode through the West End neighborhood on our way to Rt. 97. Turning right, we navigated early morning Port Jervis. A left hand turn on Rt. 6 put us on the first of many climbs for the day.
Rt. 6, from Port Jervis to Greenville is a 3.5 mile climb that gently rolls uphill for about 3 miles, then gets steep for the last half mile. Going over the top, we continued on Rt. 6 and hung a right on Rt. 1, heading into Westtown then Pine Island, the famous “Black Dirt region”. The onion aroma was delightful!
We cruised through to Warwick, NY. Warwick is a very Milford esq type of village, just a little larger. On the outskirts, we found a gas station to refill supplies.
We left Warwick and circled through Florida and Goshen before making our way past Soons Orchard and back to Rt. 6 and the rolling hills of Orange County. After fueling up at the Firehouse Deli in Greenville, we climbed up to the top of Rt. 6 (this time, from the back end) and were rewarded with a 3.5 mile descent! No matter how hilly a ride is, that drop always cures my aching legs. We traveled up River Road and crossed over the Milford Bridge for a quiet cool down through Milford.
By the way, the climb up Rt. 6 was the 7th hill this month for me in the climbing challenge. Just Guymard Turnpike, High Point and Sunrise Mountain to go. I’m told one rider finished all 10 hills in 11 days. Congrats, Bill!
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Monkees – Listen to the Band
One down, nine to go. The climbing challenge has begun! On Monday, Eric, Steve, Mike and myself, set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor at 8am to tackle any one of the 10 climbs. With High Point closed, due to New Jersey’s budget impasse that closed more than 50 state parks, historic sites and recreational areas, we settled on Greenville Turnpike.
We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. At 64 degrees, the humidity was low as we pedaled out of the shop and headed for the Milford Bridge. Crossing the bridge, we climbed Deckertown Turnpike and hung a left on Clove Road for a roller coaster type ride all the way to Montague. A short descent on Rt. 23 and a right onto Greenville Turnpike had us out of the saddle and climbing for 2.5 miles. The graph below shows just how steep that hill can get.
A left on Mountain Road for a scenic drop down to Rt. 6. The climb to the top of Rt. 6, although steep, is only a half mile and the next 3.5 miles are all downhill. The descent is fast and drops you right back to Rt. 23. A right hand turn puts you into Port Jervis with a lot of traffic for a short ride over to River Road.
River Road connects back to the Milford Bridge through a few quiet neighborhoods and rolling farmland. An easy stroll over the bridge and back into Milford. I won’t bore you with stories on all 10 climbs, just wanted to let you know that the challenge is on!
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Foreigner – Cold as Ice
Another ride through the Delaware State Forest. It never gets old. It has a large network of gravel roads that throw everything at you from pea gravel to 4″ rip rap and everything in between.
The weatherman got it right on Sunday. 70 degrees and sunny with no wind. An absolutely beautiful day. As you probably surmised, we took advantage of it by planning and executing an adventure that took us from Lord’s Valley to the High Knob.
We met at the Rt 739 parking area at 6:30am, Joe, Alex, Jason, Jess, Mike, Eric, Anthony and yours truly. The initial push up Five Mile Meadow Road started with a 1.5 mile climb and took us all the way out to Silver Lake Road and up a steep hill, before turning into Little Mud Pond Rd. We came back out onto Silver Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. At the end of Flat Ridge, we said goodbye to Joe and Alex as they turned back and headed for home to attend to a day at the pool with family.
We pedaled up to Minisink Lake and ducked into the Burnt Mills Trail for a short stretch to the Burnt Mills parking lot. Coming out of the parking lot and out on Rt 402, we turned left on Pine Flats Road. We cruised down to the Bridge at the Beaver Run Hunt and Fish Club for a photo op, refueled and pedaled up to the fork where Hay Road leads to Highline Road and turns into Hobaday Road. For 8 miles, you climb from the fork to the High Knob.
We regrouped at the base and began our assault on the hill. The climb is about 2 miles of loose gravel and winds around the core of the hill, getting steeper towards the top. The High Knob if a good halfway point for any ride and a nice place for lunch. Most reached into their jersey pocket for a sandwich. Eric pulled out a BBQ chicken leg. Yes, you read that right. It seems that Eric enjoys good food, no matter what. I really wish I would have gotten a photo of that fine gourmet atop Pike County’s highest peak.
The descent was fast and fun. That continued as most of the way back on the Hobaday, Highline, Hay Road link is downhill. After retracing Pine Flats Road, we turned right on Rt. 402 and a left onto Bushkill Falls Road and rode back to Flat Ridge. We dropped back onto Silver Lake Road and hung a right onto Standing Stone Trail. We ripped through the deer management area and back out on Five Mile Meadow Road. After a few more short hills and nice descent to the parking area, we were loading our bikes on our cars by just a few minutes after noon. Here’s a few more pics of this awesome ride:
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – Modern Woman
What better way to get people riding more, than a climbing challenge! Now that summer is right around the corner, ridingmilford.com along with Action Bikes & Outdoor are challenging you to get outside and ride your bike skyward to the top of some of the area’s most iconic climbs. Complete the challenge and get this ultra cool coffee mug:
Everything is green, rivers and creeks are flowing and flowers are blooming. When pedaling in the late spring or early summer, everything seems right in the world.
I keep a bike in the car, on the off chance that I’ll get that unexpected ride in. Yesterday presented me with just that opportunity. Eric inquired about the possibility of a 5pm road ride from Dingmans Falls. Finally being able to get out of work on time, I jumped at it. We met up at the parking lot at the top of Johnny Bee Road at the base of the falls.
The weather was perfect, 79 degrees with a slight breeze. We rode out and over the Dingman Bridge. Over the Old Mine Road/Peter’s Valley climb, Eric decided a no hands descent was in order. We pedaled through the Walpack area and into the Walpack loop. Spinning around, we jetted back through Peter’s Valley Craft Center, and headed over to Layton for an alternate climb and a speedy descent back to the Dingman Bridge. When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to ride the wooden path and Check out both sets of falls. Here’s some pics of these incredible, natural works of art:
Well, it finally happened. I wrote about an upcoming ride and it went off without a hitch! The Weather forecast was bleak at best. Rain and cold all day. Everyone showed up enthusiastic and ready for the rain. But, as luck would have it, we were spared for most of the day, save for a little drizzle the last 12 miles.
We departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 8:30am, pedaled down to The Delaware River and hoped on the McDade Trail. The first 5 miles clicked by rather quickly. At Raymondskill Road, we opted to ride on Rt. 209 and veered in and out of both sections of Zimmerman Farm. We re-entered the McDade Trail at Dingman’s Falls and stayed on gravel for the next 23 miles. 6 or 7 miles in, Jess got her first flat of the day. The tube change made for a needed rest.
We continued on towards Bushkill, when just before the boat launch, Eric had a nice liquid surprise waiting for us. After a few minutes, we pushed off (Jess caught her second flat here) and hit the Bushkill hills. Just past the boat launch, the trail becomes narrow and hilly. Not hike a bike stuff, but enough to get your attention.
It started to rain a little and got cool fast. We picked up the pace a bit in an attempt to out run the rain. It never came down that hard. Hitting the parking area at Hialeah Trailhead, we jumped on River Road and made our way to the Gem and Keystone Brew Pub for a delicious lunch.
The McDade Trail winds through nature, in the form of corn fields, the Delaware River, pine forests and thick brush, all within a few hundred feet of Rt. 209. We were lucky that the heavy rain held out until after the ride. When we arrived, we were greeted by our families, had a few beers, laughed and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Some pics of the day:
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Electric Light Orchestra – Strange Magic
On Sunday, June 4th, a group will be leaving Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford and ride to Milford Beach, where we will enter the McDade Trail and pedal 30-35 miles south to the Hialeah trailhead. We will come off the trail briefly to cover both sections of Zimmerman Farm.
Depending on the weather, it should be a fun ride at an intermediate pace. Adventure bikes (cyclocross, gravel, etc…) and mountain bikes are ideal for this type of surface.
We are meeting at the shop at 7:30am for an 8am rollout. The plan is to reach the end of the trail by noon and have lunch at one of the 2 Brew Pubs in the Shawnee area. You can either have a ride pick you up and/or have lunch with the group or take the Pocono Pony bus back to the shop. The Pocono Pony is a bus service that has a line that runs on the weekends along the Delaware River. A one way fare is $1.50. This includes transportation for you and your bike. Each bus has bike and boat racks, making it a convenient method of transportation to and from all your Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area adventures. You can check the schedule at http://www.mcta.com, click route and select the DEWA Park route.
You’ll need funds for lunch, extra tube, helmet and a lot of enthusiasm. Hope to see you there.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives
It’s been a while since my last post. This was supposed to be about my experience at the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel race. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’ve done a couple of rides the past few weeks, however, nothing of any length or significance.
On Tuesday evening, I was just looking to clear my head, so I pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed out to Milford Beach, via the gravel section, below 3rd street, along the river. Once at the beach, I jumped onto the McDade Trail. The first 3-4 miles on the trail are so serene and peaceful. Easy rolling, gravel terrain tucked away in the woods with the Delaware River gracefully flowing along to the left.
I rode past Raymondskill Road and through the single track, to the steps (where the bridge washed out). I shouldered my bike and hiked up to Rt. 209. A half mile on 209 and into the first section of Zimmerman Farm. After cresting the hill, you stay left at the fork, avoiding the Conashaugh horse trails. Another mile and back on Rt. 209 for a 1/4 mile and back into Zimmerman Farm. This section climbs a bit and drops sharply down to the farm. Riding by the dilapidated structures and past Marie Zimmerman’s home, I sped down the dirt road that leads back to the pave. I took Rt. 209 to Dingmans Ferry and hopped back on the McDade Trail to The Dingmans Campground General Store.
I used the General Store as my turn around and took the McDade Trail back to Dingmans Falls and onto Rt. 209 (out and backs are soooo boring). Jumping back on the McDade Trail to Milford Beach, I past a few couples riding along slowly taking in all that this beautiful stretch of land has to offer.
Back at the shop, just before dark, I realized that I am lucky to be able to get on the bike and pedal, whenever time allows.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Eddie Rabbitt – I Love a Rainy Night
On Sunday, I’ll be saddling up for my first long gravel ride in 2017. The Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo is an all road (gravel, dirt and pave) adventure in Northeastern PA. They offer 50, 75 and 100 mile routes. I’m all in for the 100.
Registration opened on January 1st at 12:01am and filled up in a few hours for this 5th annual ride. While others were waiting for the ball to drop, I was patiently waiting at my laptop for the clock to strike midnight, to see if I’d get in.
Honestly, I knew that it would be tough to get in enough miles this time of year to properly train for what’s billed as a grueling ride. What I did not realize was that my longest ride would be 45 miles a couple of weeks before. I’m trying to make up for lost training with good nutrition. I’m a vegetarian who also enjoys some baked goods. I’ve been eating as clean as possible the last few weeks and adding some stretching and yoga and trying to get in some extra sleep.
I hope to have lots of cool photos and a great story for the blog…..
On Sunday, we were treated to a beautiful spring day. High 60’s and sunny. After a monumental thaw, followed by 3 days of torrential rains, spring is finally here and it couldn’t be better.
Wanting to get a longer ride in with a couple of weeks to go before the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel ride, I met up with Mike at the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. The roadway was filled with potholes, but dry for most of the way (the state normally lays a fresh layer of gravel across the road in late September). We turned right on Silver Lake Road, climbed the chopped up asphalt and slipped into Little Mud Pond Road, where we picked up Eric, to join us in this gravel adventure.
We came back on Silver Lake a little and hung a right on Flat Ridge Road, which provided a little respite. We were heading into the deep woods soon after. A left on Bushkill Falls Road and a right on Minisink Road, put us into the Minisink Lake Community, at the fork, the pave turns back to gravel and then to double trail jeep trail. Whittaker Trail was muddy and soft. For about a mile and a half, we worked our way through the woods until the trail came back onto gravel and the road was now fittingly called Whittaker Road. About a mile in and Eric’s rear tire went down. Being set up tubeless, he had to remove the valve and pop a tube in. We learned a valuable lesson: a 23mm road tube will not make due in a 36mm cross tire. Luckily, we had a cross tube, inserted it and off we went.
Whittaker Road comes out to Rt. 402. We turned right and pedaled up to Silver Lake Road. At this point, Eric and Mike rode back to their cars (Eric’s at Little Mud Pond Road and Mike’s at the end of Five Mile Meadow Road). I made my way up to the Maple Run parking area to meet up with Matt for some extended saddle time. We headed north to the High Knob Road and turned into Hobbaday Road and down to High Line Road. This is basically 7 miles of pure down hill gravel except for a few little bumps along the way. We hung a sharp left on Pine Flats Road and rode out to Rt. 402 and onto Silver Lake Road.
After a few miles, we were back on gravel on Standing Stone Trail. A few easy miles to Five Mile Meadow Road and we floated back down to Rt. 739. I was pretty tired and glad to be back at my car. Matt still had to pedal up Rt. 739 to Blooming Grove Road and back onto Rt. 402 for about 15 more miles to his car. Anyway you slice it, it was a beautiful day of riding! Hopefully the big event will be just as nice.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Terence Trent D’arby – Wishing Well
Ah, the rains! Between the melting snow and all the rain, it’s shaping up to be an incredible spring season. Usually, when we have this much moisture in the early spring, it leads to green moss on the ground, beautiful trees and pristine lakes, void of silt. While nature takes it’s course, it may be a good time to cultivate your adventures for 2017.
I think that everyone who rides a bike, kayaks, hikes or does anything outdoors, would love to be able to spend more time in nature. Most people have families and careers. And while family time is not a chore, work can get overwhelming at times, making even the shortest activities seem like paradise. Getting out weekly is a must, but it really helps to plan your longer outings. When your stuck working on Saturday or putting in an extra 20 hours for the week, looking forward to an epic hike, refreshing paddle down your favorite river or a bike ride that goes so late, you need to turn your head light on, can help to ward off the stresses of the modern weekend adventurer.
You can simply plan local getaways or events that take you out of your backyard. I’m scheduling the following events with many local rides, hikes, paddles and camping trips mixed in:
April 23rd – Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo 100 mile gravel ride in Northeastern PA
Late June 200 mile/ 2 day ride from Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ
July 22nd – VBC Century Road ride in Plattsburgh, NY
Late September – Maple City Century 100 mile Gravel Ride in Honesdale, PA
Late October – Erie 80 MTB Race in Port Jervis, NY
Planning can take many paths, just don’t let it add additional stress. No need to create a spread sheet here, just lay out what you think you’ll need and as you get closer, shed some weight by getting rid of all but the absolute necessities. Having the right gear can help ease your mind. If you are doing a multi day hike on the Appalachian Trail, make sure you have enough water, food, cooking equipment, good boots and dry clothes. Don’t let the weather keep you inside. On a long bike ride, tubes, a tire and snacks could be all you really need.
Another thought, keep your gear well maintained. Something as simple as bringing your bike in for a spring tune up will keep you riding all year long and provide for a hassle free adventure. If you do not know, ask. Your local bike shop or outdoor store is your best resource for information on maintenance, gear and routes.
For someone that lives to ride the trails and back roads, snow can be a real problem. You might have noticed from some of my more recent posts, that I have been riding my gravel bikes on the pave. There are two reasons for this. First, I wanted to hit some longer hills and by this time of year, I’m usually able to get out on the road bike enough to satisfy the urge to climb. Second, I’d rather ride a heavier bike that’s used to getting covered in all sorts of debris and muck.
That said, last week, we got hit with 25-30 inches of snow. With the wind drifts and plow trucks piling it up, visibility around turns has been pretty minimal. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures were forecast to hit above 45 degrees. I made it my business to ride at least twice before Wednesday’s cold snap comes in.
On Sunday, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and decided to climb Foster Hill to the dude ranch, descended and climbed up Skyline Drive around the cell tower and back down. You feel every fiber of muscle working, pulling up a beefy steel bike with 29X2.1 knobby tires. It’s just the opposite on the descent. The weight of a well made steel bike, grounds you and gives you a ton of confidence while barreling down from one of the highest points of elevation in the area.
On Tuesday, I did another road ride on the Van Dessel WTF, but this time, from Dingmans Falls. I left the parking area and headed directly uphill on Rt. 739, a road that goes skyward immediately. After 4 miles, you gain more than 800 feet of elevation. That hill would probably get included in a lot of rides, be it not for the lack of shoulder.
A right on Milford Road, sends you on a roller coaster ride for a few miles, before dropping quickly into Milford. After navigating the only traffic light in town, Rt. 209 winds its way along the Delaware River, all the way back to Dingmans Falls. You know, the snow can be quite beautiful when the sun shines, even if you only have a slight path to ride.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue.
If you read my review of the Kona Rove TI, you might be wondering why I’m now reviewing the steel version of Kona’s do all platform.
Let me start by saying that I love the Rove TI. However, Most of my bikes are 59cm and I ordered the frame in a 59 without checking the length of the seat tube or the stand over. As much as I enjoyed the plush ride, it was simply too big for me. So, I parted ways with my beloved steed and ordered the steel Rove in a 57cm.
After about 550 miles through all kinds of weather and road conditions, I have to say that the steel Rove is everything you’d want in a gravel/monstercross/all road bike. At $1,499.99, you would think it comes poorly spec’d, when in fact, the Rove sports a very nice package. First, the frame is Kona’s cromoly butted steel, paired with a Kona Project Two cromoly disc fork. SRAM Rival shifters and derailers, a SRAM 11-42 cassette with a SRAM S350 40t crankset, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clemente Xplore 700X36 tubeless tires laced to an Alex Al disc wheelset. An FSA headset, Kona seat post, seatpost clamp, 15 degree flared handlebar and stem as well as a WTB Volt saddle round it all out.
After about 100 miles, I made the decision to make the Rove my go to gravel bike, for epic long distance events. I switched out the wheelset to Bontrager’s Affinity Elite tubeless. I wanted to go a little wider with my hands in the drops, so the Salsa Woodchipper handlebar just made sense. I lightened up the cockpit a bit with a Chris King headset, Thomson seat post and stem. Although the cassette and crankset are perfectly capable, I switched out the cassette for a 10X42 and the crankset to a Rival 42t, just to allow for a little more top end speed.
After a 100 mile gravel ride and many long, steep climbs, I’m extremely happy with my choice. The steel Rove is snappy enough for any gravel race, long epic adventure or daily commute and climbs as well as it’s TI counterpart.
Kona leaves nothing to chance. With 3 water bottle mounts, full fender and rack mounts, the Rove is as versatile as a do all bike could be. Also, the olive color is beautiful and adds a bit of class.
Another last-minute ride before a storm system comes in. Hopefully, the last one of the season. If not, We’ll just have to ride it out until sunnier sky’s prevail.
On Thursday afternoon, I decided to climb Cummins Hill from the front side with a little trail diversion before descending to Mill Rift. Now, normally, I would ride into Matamoras and take Delaware Drive all the way up from the river and down to Mill Rift before climbing Bluestone Blvd and over Cummins Hill.
Starting from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, I simply went the opposite way. The front side is far more difficult. The first climb took around 27 minutes. It can be pretty steep in sections. I took a small diversion on Lost Camp Trail. After a mile, I turned around, not wanting to get caught out in the woods again.You realize how far you climbed when you hit the downhill spin into Mill Rift. You roll through the quiet little river town, across the railroad tracks and begin to ascend. Delaware Drive is not quite as long as Cummins Hill, but every bit as steep.
I reached the top and dropped quickly to the Delaware River. There are some really nice views of the river from the top of both climbs. I cut across Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras and pedaled down Rt. 209 and back to the shop. Next week, I’ll review the Kona Rove Steel version.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)’94
On Tuesday night, I left work about 4pm and decided on my way home to turn around and head for Dingman’s Falls. I had my bike and gear in the car, just in case. The sky was overcast and gloomy, I knew I had this chance to get a ride in before Mother Nature poured down on us for a few days (according to the weather forecast).
By 4:30, I rolled out onto Rt. 209, made a right on Rt. 739 and glided over the wood planks of the Dingmans Ferry Bridge. A right on Old Mine Road and I immediately started climbing. At the top, I hung a right onto the gravel section of Old Mine Road. For six miles, along the river and through the fields, the grade was primarily downhill and flat. Except for a few washed out sections, the surface was in pretty good shape.
At the end, I turned left on Pompey Road and climbed out of the Walpack Loop. I saw a trail I’ve been wanting to explore. I thought it came out in front of the Walpack Inn. It probably did, but I took a wrong turn in the woods. I tried to find my way out, but it seemed the trail just kept dropping down. I checked the map on my phone and found my direction. By this time, it was almost dark. The map showed what looked like a road a few miles away. I turned my headlight on and bounced down the trail, hoping I wouldn’t have to sleep under the stars, without camping gear or a jacket.
Out in the distance, I saw a light, it sailed by pretty quick. Thankfully, it was a car. Another half mile and I finally found the road. I turned on navigation (what would I do without a smart phone) and pedaled back to Old Mine Road. On the ride back to my car, I was happy I didn’t panic and just kept moving forward. I was happier that I turned around and was even luckier still to have this brief adventure!
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The J Geils Band – Centerfold
This last week has been pretty amazing, with temperatures ranging from the 50’s to 73 degrees today! Just when it seemed like the ice and snow wouldn’t stop, we are treated to 7 glorious days in February!
I know the cold weather will eventually come back, but this little teaser is just the thing that could help shake out those cobwebs and get you ready for a year full of adventures!
Do something nice for someone, when no one else is looking.
I guess Punxsutawney Phil was wrong. A couple weeks ago, the world’s most famous rodent saw his shadow, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. This weekend and the weather for the next 10 days indicate otherwise. With temperatures reaching the 60’s the last two days, I had to fit in a couple rides. Saturday was an off road, gravel and slush adventure. For Sunday, Eric and I planned a road ride on gravel bikes with knobby tires, to compensate for all the dirt and gravel on the roadway as well as the melting ice and snow.
We pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, towards Matamoras on Rt. 209/6. Once through Westfall Township, we turned left on Mountain Avenue to Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Turning left into the West End neighborhood, we rode along the river and up to Rt. 97. We turned right and rode up to Skyline Drive. As we attempted to climb up to Point Peter, we were stopped about 3/4 of the way up by a gate that was blocking the unplowed, snow filled road.
Looking to get some more climbing in, we adjusted our route and descended back to Rt. 97 and headed up to the Hawks Nest. You can’t beat the view from any of the roadside pull offs. However, there was a bit more traffic than expected and a lot more motorcycles than cars. The motor bikes were riding up and over the hills and turning around and doing it all over again, while their buddies took video of them popping wheelies.
Not sure this is the smartest thing on a road with so many blind corners and hills. We rode over and down to the other side. After another mile or so, we pedaled up a Shortell Road (a hard packed dirt surface) for half a mile until we were again turned around by a pile of snow this time, blocking off the unplowed road.
shorts in February
We decided to ride back over the Hawks Nest, also known as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. We stopped at the very . . top for a Clif bar and a photo op. To escape the Evil Knievels of the world, we sped down Rt. 97 and back into the West End neighborhood. The ride on Mountain Avenue and back up Rt. 209/6 were met with a horrendous head wind. Gusts were almost blowing us backward.
If this were simply a spring teaser, I’ll take it. But, if this is a sign of things to come, I’ll take it and run or pedal. Either way, I’ll welcome it!
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Winter has hit the northeast. On Thursday, Mother Nature dropped nearly a foot of snow on us. Easily the largest snowfall in the area this winter. A bikepacking trip was planned for this past weekend, but with back roads and trails too deeply covered, TC shifted his focus to an overnight backpacking adventure. With Will and myself enlisted, TC mapped out the trip and made sure we would be rewarded at the end of the day’s hike.
This was to be my first multi day hike and it showed. I started out the day by driving off from home with my hat and gloves on the roof of the car. They ended up on my driveway. Apparently it seems I dramatically over packed. Well, I over dressed as well, but shed some clothes and added them to my bulging backpack.
We departed on Saturday morning from Fairview Lake near Stillwater, NJ and snowshoed up a long hill on the Appalachian Trail. The higher we got, the deeper the snow. When we arrived on top, we were rewarded with a walk along the ridge and treated to astonishing views.
We climbed and descended for the better part of 5 1/2 hours. About three-quarters of the way through the eight mile hike, we shed the snowshoes. As we got closer to the cabin, we passed some day hikers, that really packed the snow down enabling us to pick up the pace.
The last half mile was a downhill hike that took us over countless rocks and snow drifts. We landed on Camp Road and walked about 1000 feet to the Mohican Outdoor Center, our home away from home for the night. Now, we knew we were staying in a cabin. What we did not know was that the Mohican staff were preparing a meal for another group and invited us over to the dining hall for a gourmet feast.
Stomachs full, we retired to our cabin. We were going to need a good nights sleep as the weather forecast for Sunday was a mix of snow, sleet and rain.
We woke about 6:30am, to pellets of ice hitting the cabin. A good breakfast and a pot of coffee and we were fully recharged and ready to take on the weather. With covers over our packs and rain gear on, we headed out the door and onto the trail at 9:30am. Again, the day started out with a climb. We opted to forgo the snowshoes and make up as much time as possible to get through the storm.
Getting up the hill was not a problem. We climbed rather quickly. When we reached the higher elevations, the snow came down heavy and the wind was blowing extremely hard, making it difficult to see. Pushing through 18-20 inches of snow slowed us down considerably. I started to fall behind. My shoulders and hips were sore. As I plodded forward, I was lucky that TC and Will kept and eye out for trail markers. We reached Sunfish Pond and took a short rest about halfway through the 9 mile day.
We moved on and navigated the rocky terrain around the lake. After another climb, we descended a few miles down a rather well packed trail, along a beautiful creek, all the way to the parking area along RT. 80.
Although the terrain was a little rough, due to the snow and ice, I’m interested to see how it will be during the spring or summer. I’m sure I will find out, as this may have been my first overnight backpacking adventure, but it certainly will not be my last.
What a beautiful day. 51 degrees in February. With the impending snow storm on the horizon, today was one of those days that if you have a window, you had to go out and ride. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I took the Van Dessel WTF on a stroll over Cummins Hill. A 28 pound bike with 29X 2.1 inch tires should provide quite a challenge on the same hills that I normally climb on my sub 17 pound road bike.
I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and pedaled down Rt. 209/6 towards Matamoras. Once I navigated the school traffic and lights, I veered left onto Mountain Avenue and cut across to Delaware Drive for a windy stint along the river.
A brief stop to take a photo of a garage that was painted to look like a farm scene, then back down Delaware Drive, cautiously to prepare for the climb. The first set of hills take you off the river and away from the commercial river companies’ launch sites. The initial climb, although not very long, gives the rider a little insight of what’s about to come. The roadway twists, turns and goes skyward for about 3.5 miles. Once you summit this section, you drop down pretty quickly. Be sure to feather the brakes and glance to the right, as you do not want to miss the incredible views of the Delaware River from about mid way down the hill.
At the bottom, you cross the train tracks and arrive in the tiny town of Mill Rift, PA. This little berg has so many cool nooks and crannies. Check out the frozen water wheel and covered bridge that are among the amazing things to see.
After site seeing in Mill Rift, the longer section of hills comes up on you without notice. Incline after leg burning incline, the road seems to never stop going upward. Every time you think you’ve crested the top of a hill, you look up to see the road go higher. When you finally reach the top, you really have to be careful, as the descent is steep and dangerous. This is one paved road that requires your full attention. Although the road is lightly travelled, cars and pickup trucks can come up on you in a hurry.
At the bottom, a right hand turn puts you back on Rt. 209/6 and the cool down into Milford is just what the doctor ordered!
This is a difficult route that should be done on a road bike. Helmets should always be worn, especially when you plan on descending a hill like this.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket
I had a window on Saturday. I got out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 3pm. It was chilly, but the sun was out and I’ll take 35 degrees in February anytime. Not knowing what to expect, I took the Van Dessel WTF, just in case the roads and trails had snow.
I winded my way through Milford and dropped down Metz Road past the Metz Icehouse and into Milford Beach where I jumped on the Mcdade Trail. I was surprised how dry the surface was. Very little snow.
I pedaled past Raymondskill Road onto the single track to where the trail drops down the wooden steps. A quick hike up the side of the hill put me over the guardrail and on Rt. 209. From there, I jumped onto Zimmerman Road, rode up and around the old horse trails and back out on 209. Another 1/4 mile and I was back on Zimmerman and climbing up to the Zimmerman Farm (I detailed Marie Zimmerman’s farm and home in a couple of previous posts)
After a quick photo op, I pedaled through the farm, past the house and down the trail and back out to Rt. 209. Crossing over Rt. 739, I shot down the McDade extension, over the wooden bridge and back around to 209 for a few miles before jumping back on the Mcdade Trail. As I got back to Milford Beach, the sun just started to set over the Delaware River.
Although I long for warmer days, I’ll take 35 in February anytime!!
What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show – The Cover of the Rolling Stone
All this ice is enough to screw up a few good gravel roads. Well that’s a little extreme. But, seriously, I wish it would just snow already. A foot of snow would be a whole lot better than an inch of ice.
With winter more than a third over, it was time to get out at night again and navigate through whatever Mother Nature decided to leave on the ground this week. I met up with Eric at 5:30pm at the parking area on Rt. 739 at the foot of Five Mile Meadow Road for a cold gravel ride. Well, maybe not a gravel ride, more like an ice ride.
Not all rides are epic and although we got out and pedaled for a while, this was a ride that could have waited for a much warmer day. You see, slush and mud may be dirtier, but it’s sure a lot safer to ride through.
Anyway, we climbed up the first section of road for about a mile and a half, using the truck tire tracks that rip through the snow and ice. Another mile and a half and the tire tracks just about disappeared. It started snowing and we decided to turn back. The last thing we wanted was the snow to cover what little roadway was not already covered in ice. The ride back got me thinking that an investment in studded tires might be a good idea!
Mixed in with the snow, rain and ice, we were treated to a 40 degree day today. In fact, the forecasts are calling for warmer weather for the next 3 days. To take advantage, I stuffed my bike(Van Dessel WTF) in the car this morning, charged up my headlight and prepared for an after work ride through the trails off Old Mine Road, just over the River on the New Jersey side.
I parked at Dingmans Falls and rode across the Dingman Bridge, making a left on Old Mine Road. About a mile and a half later, I turned right on Van Ness Road. Van Ness is a paved road that has seen better days. There are no pot holes, really, just chunks of roadway are missing. It winds nicely through the woods, with a short but steep climb up to Upper Ridge Road. Turning left, you immediately see what appears to be a wall or the side of a mountain. As you approach, the gradient seems less steep and the climb, although not easy on the loose surface, was not as daunting as it first appeared.
The road was covered in leaves, making it difficult to see the rocks and roots. The mud was unavoidable! Every few feet, soft, loose terrain gave way to puddles and mud. Halfway through, the road turns to trail and goes upward, leaving me wondering why I wasn’t on a mountain bike. It’s all good though. A wet, muddy, cold ride is still better than a day spent inside.
Coming out onto Jager Road, I hung a left and descended down to Old Mine Road. On the way back, I tried going down Mettler Road and turned right on Van Auken Road. Both were covered in ice. I pedaled about a mile and turned back as ice was still on the gravel surface.
Maybe today was just a little taste of things to come. Who knows, a longer road ride might be in the near future.
No music today. Just the sound of the temporary thaw as streams and creeks roared like rivers and everything melted in the road.
With the cold weather, snow and ice hitting us a little harder this winter, I have not been able to get outside as often as last year. This gives me some time to create a little content for the blog. When I read other blogs, and I read a lot of them, I pay attention to product reviews. The bike industry continues to evolve, with new equipment and apparel debuting more often than most industries. It can be hard to keep up with. Reviews provide insight from end users to industry professionals, helping consumers make smart choices.
One of the bikes I rode in 2016 was the Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. The WTF is an all road, adventure or gravel bike. According to Van Dessel’s website, “With 4130 Cro-Moly at it’s heart the WTF you can build it up with drop bars or straight, a chain drive or belt drive, skinny tires or 2.1’s Really it’s open to suggestions. After all, it handles gravel roads, paved roads, single track, mountain trails, commuting, loaded touring, winter training, monster cross — pretty much anything you might want to do on a bike, it’s perfectly qualified for”. The bike is available as a frame/fork/headset/seat collar for $699 from Van Dessel Cycles, a small builder with a great reputation, located in Mendham, N.J.The frame and fork are disc brake only. I purchased my frame in 2015, so I have quick release dropouts. For 2017, the WTF comes with new modular dropouts, meaning it will take quick release or through axle. The bottom bracket she’ll accepts Pressfit 30 BB’s and cranksets. The frame is also belt drive compatible. Tire clearance is phenomenal! I run 700c X 40mm tires during the spring, summer and fall. For the winter, I run 29 X 2.1″ tires. Fender and rack eyelets round out the package. Oh, and you have to see the double top tube!
I built my frame up with a SRAM 11 speed groupset. I wanted enough gearing to get me and a fully loaded bike up dirt and gravel hills, so a 54/30 crankset and an 11-32 cassette paired with Rival derailers and shifters do the trick nicely. I went with Avid BB7 road disc brakes, 160mm rotors. I won’t mention tires, (that’s for another review) but the wheelset is Bontrager’s Affinity Comp Disc. The cockpit is a simple alloy seatpost, Thomson stem and a 15 degree flared handlebar for better control in the drops.
The WTF is for me, my go to bike, when conditions are less than stellar. In the rain, snow, mud, dirt and gravel, the WTF has done it all. It climbs exceptionally well for a 26+pound bike. When your riding a bike in this category, you need to throw out the weight and just enjoy the ride quality that a finely crafted steel bike offers. On 2 separate bikepacking trips, I loaded the bike down with frame bag, seatpack, handlebar bag, fork mounted extra large cage and 2 top tube bags. With about 40 extra pounds of gear, and my 180lbs., control was no issue. Overall, a great bike that is fully up to any task.For 2017, Van Dessel offers the WTF in orange and pink. Two cool new colors that add a little flavor to an already exciting package.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is – The Chicago Transit Authority
Cozy toes for when the temperature drops and the snow sticks around.
Four season cycling can be a challenge if your bikes and wardrobe are not up to the task. A few years ago, I picked up a Cannondale CAADX, and hung up the road bike for the winter months. The cyclocross bike now expands my riding opportunities year round and provides a welcome change from the roads, but there’s more to winter riding than knobby tires. In search of a means to keep my toes warm, I set out for some advice at Action Bikes & Outdoors and spoke with TC. A few questions later, I had the Endura MT500 Overshoe II in hand, and was hopeful for the right weather to test them out.
Now that winter has officially arrived with cold temperatures and snow, I’ve stretched them out a few times along the McDade Recreational Trail, as well as another occasion for a ride on the Sussex/Paulinskill Trails. Weather conditions on these rides have been 30-35f, windy and upwards of 4 inches of slush, a great mix of conditions for these overshoes. For those that have gone trail riding on a CX bike know, there is usually a need to stop and hike-a-bike at least once, so I’ve given these some performance opportunities.
The neoprene bootie remained waterproof and warm after multiple dismounts in the inches deep slush, with snow-caked feet, after miles of riding through snow at temperatures in the low 30’s.
The toes are made with a molded rugged rubber material that provides a stable and grippy surface to walk over gravel, and through slush and down grassy slopes. I’ve never owned a pair of overshoes, so getting them both on and off is a humorous exercise, as the fit is meant to be snug, which helps keep your shoes dry. Finishing touches on the MT500 besides the well thought out toe box construction include heavy stitching all around, reflective logo, rear zipper panel accents, reinforced heel panel, and plastic coated zipper pull, which is easy to use with gloves on. For extended rides in temperatures lower than 35f, I prefer to also use adhesive toe warmers inside my shoes, but others might find that unnecessary. All in all, if I had to rate these, I’d give them a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
At 7am, my little girl decided that her morning walk was going to be on the trail instead of the road. I would like to think she wanted to be in nature to start the new year, but it turns out that she just wanted to follow the deer tracks. She’s the only dog I’ve seen that chases a deer into the woods and comes running back out with the deer chasing her.
Eric and I managed to get in a ride on the Mcdade Trail. With the weather expected to be below 30 degrees, we layered up and pushed off at 10am from Dingmans Falls through the mostly untouched snow, towards Buskill. I figured the cross country skiers would have packed it down by now, but we were lucky enough to have the fresh snow for traction. Honestly, we would have been better off on mountain bikes, but hey, that would have been too easy.
Around 11:00 it warmed up to about 35 degrees and the powdery snow started to turn slushy. Thankfully, the Mcdade Trail has very few hills, because Eric’s cantilever brakes were non existent for most of he ride.
In Bushkill, we found one of the cool log benches that are all over the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, next to a creek that was a perfect spot for a coffee break and it was a good time to shed a couple of layers as well as changing from lobster claw gloves to wool liners.
From there, we turned around and headed back to the parking area where we were surprised to find about 10-15 cars. People asking about the XCountry ski conditions and others hiking up to the falls. A nice ride to kick off the new year!
Coming soon, we will have a few reviews: Eric will review his new Endura Booties and the Bontrager Ion 800 headlight. I’ll review a couple bikes that got me through 2016.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – The Ballad of Billy the Kid
What a year it’s been. 2016 gave us a mild winter, a warm spring, a hot and sunny summer and a gorgeous fall foliage season. I was able to get in a lot of rides, on the road bike, the gravel bike and even a few mountain bike rides. I was able to ride over 100 miles twice. I caught a bit of the bike packing bug and did two sub 24 hour overnighters.
I’m not going to detail my yearly mileage, hours on the bike or elevation gained, because that is not what this blog is about. I’m simply going to tell you that I have had a wonderful year of riding with a lot of really cool people here in Milford, Pike County, the Poconos, Port Jervis, Sussex County and the entire area. I took some photos, drank a lot of coffee and settled in to a much more relaxed style of riding.
One thing I learned in 2016 is that most cyclists don’t race. They try to go too fast and miss everything that the world around them has to offer. For the last 20 years or so, that’s been me. I have tried in vain to keep up with faster riders. I now ride a little faster when I want to. But, dropping the speed a few miles an hour to take in the sights and stopping every now and again to have coffee makes a tough ride all the more enjoyable.
My modest goals for 2017:
A solo overnighter in the Delaware State Forest
A multi night group Bike Packing Adventure
2 road rides over 100 miles
2 gravel rides over 100 miles
50 mile mountain bike ride
Be a better father
Be a better husband
My first attempt at a 100 mile gravel ride will be the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo in Jenkins Township, PA on April 23rd, 2017. It might be a bit of a challenge to train for a ride of that length, so early in the year, but I’m hoping that I’m not alone in this.
so far, it looks like another mild winter, hopefully that means more riding!
Even though it’s only Mid December, winter is here. It’s so frigid outside, that the entire east coast is experiencing a cold snap. While I was walking the dog in the snow, early Sunday morning, I figured there was no way I was going ride a bike or do much of anything outside. After more than enough coffee, my lovely wife suggested spending the day either hanging Christmas decorations or shopping. Hmm, what to do?
Well, the only way I could brave a day out shopping would be if I could spend a little time out on the bike first. So I layered up, put my mtb shoes, helmet and gloves by the fire for a few minutes and headed out on the Trek Stache.
The roads were covered in the white stuff, so I snuck through the woods, behind my house and into the Delaware State Forest. Not sure where I was going (but that’s the fun part, isn’t it?), I found a snow mobile trail that would have otherwise been brutal to ride over, but with the snow packed into it, I felt like I was on a pedal assisted sled. Somehow, that trail ended a little over a mile later at a driveway to a hunting cabin. I ventured down and ended up on Five Mile Meadow Road. It’s cool to find trails you never knew existed, and probably rode by more than a few times.
I jumped into the old Boy Scout camp and found some untouched, endless trails of 6-8 inches of snow. I worked my way past all the dilapidated buildings and dropped down to the lake. Rock Hill Pond, at the foot of the camp, which I believe is now part of the PA State Forest, is completely engulfed in nature. After propping my bike up for a pic, I attempted a sip out of my water bottle. I was only out for about an hour and my bottle was frozen. Lesson learned. Next time, I’ll carry my bottle or wear a hydration pack.
Pedaling up from the lake and out of the camp was an adventure. When I reached the gravel roads again, I felt as if I were rolling along a smooth section of blacktop. I scurried through the trees and back into my community, satisfied and ready to take on the day and the stores. But first, I would relax a bit and warm up by the fire. What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Just the Classics – Santa Claus is Coming to Town (The Jackson 5 version) and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
Just across the Delaware River from Milford, sits an old rail bed, formerly used by the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Today, it is a multi use trail, used primarily by hikers and cyclists. The Sussex Branch Trail, travels from Branchville to Byrum Township, approximately 20 miles of primarily flat, gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It crosses lakes, swamps and the Paulinskill River. It intersects with the Paulinskill Valley Trail at Warbasse Junction. The Paulinskill, formerly used by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, is also gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It goes upward from Warbasse at a 1-2% grade, making the return trip extremely fast.
I hooked up with Eric at 7:30am at the Branchville Fire Department parking lot. At about 28 degrees, we were in for a chilly start. As we shoved off, we missed the trail head and pedaled in circles for 3 miles before hopping into the woods. Immediately, I knew we were on a pretty cool piece of real estate.
The Sussex Branch Trail is 4 feet wide with trees overhanging the six inch rut that serves as the best line to roll through. Wooden bridges cross the wet land that separate the many farms that dominate this beautiful county, tucked away in northern New Jersey.
We took a coffee and nature break at Warbasse Junction, and stayed on the Sussex for a few more miles. When we turned around, a few cyclists on fat Bikes came motoring by. In fact, we passed more than a few hikers, people walking their dogs and a group of women that were out running their way to warmth.
When we reached Warbasse Junction again, we hung a left onto the Paulinskill. Although, the Sussex Branch Trail is beautiful, quiet and rustic, it is not as well groomed as the Paulinskill, which is wider with and even surface from left to right. We pedaled up for a few miles, until we reached an area that was saturated from the recent rains, with water overflowing from a pond, right across the trail. This seemed a good place to turn around and head back to Branchville. As I previously stated, the Paulinskill has a slight grade and after the turn around, we really picked up some speed as we made our way back to the Sussex Branch Trail. We followed the trail all the way back into town, realizing where we missed the turn at the start.
Either of these two trails can be covered on a cyclocross bike, mountain bike or even a hybrid bike. They both travel through a few small towns with ample opportunities to refill fluids and stock up on food supplies. Now go out and ride!
What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Steve Windwood – When You See a Chance
It was pretty cold on Sunday morning, tempts in the high 20’s around 9am. I’ve been battling the flu for the better part of a week and was not sure I could deal with the cold air well enough to enjoy some time on the bike. I really wanted to join those who opted outside on Friday, but just couldn’t pull myself out of bed.
I got a text from Anthony in the early morning, asking if I was planning to ride today. Feeling a little better, I decided to take him up on it and venture out. We made a plan to meet and ride through the Delaware State Forest for a little gravel adventure and enjoy the emergency access roads as Sunday is the only day that hunters are not occupying the entire area.Anthony is a strong rider with a lot of speed, so I though it would be cool to get him out in the woods and try to chase him a little. He is riding a brand new Lynskey Titanium bike that was expertly built up by TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor. The bike is light and looks like a true gravel or monstercross beast. It appeared to roll through the loosest gravel and hard pack dirt with ease.I won’t bore you with roads traveled. However, I will say that it felt great to get outside. It was cold for sure, but being off the bike , even if it’s just for a week and a half to recover, felt like forever. I know we need some snow this winter, but I’m certainly hoping for at least a few rides a month to keep the juices flowing. That being said, if the weather is so terribly horrible, I will run, snowshoe or make snow angels, but I will not ride on the trainer. I haven’t for 2 years now and I’m sure it will survive without me. We’ll try a few more product reviews to keep the blog active and take the extra time to properly plan out some exciting adventures for 2017.
What’s playing (what am listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Robert Palmer – Bad Case of Loving You (doctor, doctor)
Thank you for submitting your photos. There were some really beautiful shots and I hope the contest got a few people outside with their bikes, when they would have otherwise been in the warmth of their homes.
The winning photo was submitted by Sean of his Masi cyclocross bike by a lake, on November 17th. Congrats, sunglasses will be coming your way shortly.
To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of ridingmilford.com, we are having a photo contest, with the winner getting a set of brand new Tifosi Optics Lore multi lens sunglasses, in beautiful metallic red. A $70 value. Included are amber, smoked and clear lenses, soft and hard cases.
To enter: reply/comment to this post with a new photo of your bicycle in nature by this Saturday, November 19th, 2016 at 4pm. Winner will be chosen and contacted on Monday, November 21st, 2016.
It may be mid fall, but it felt like winter on Saturday morning, with temperatures in the low 30’s. So, I layered up and joined Steve, Eric and Mike for a ride through the Delaware State Forest, with a lakeside cafe diversion.
We met up at the Five Mile Meadow Road Parking Area on Rt. 739. Pedaling the 6.5 mile distance of Five Mile, past numerous trucks parked off the road, we were careful to be loud enough to let hunters know we were not deer!
When we reached Silver Lake Road, we turned right, climbed the pot holed hill and made another right into Little Mud Pond Road, another gravel horseshoe, with a beautiful lake or shall I say pond. The boat launch, while blocked by a tree that was chewed in half by a beaver, served as our cafe this morning.
The wind off the lake made it difficult to light the gas stove and it never really got super hot. Oh well, cool coffee is better than no coffee!
We headed back out to Silver Lake Road and cruised over to Standing Tall Trail. One of my favorite roads, Standing Tall winds through the deer management area, staying at an almost even grade for three miles with one creek crossing. The gravel is loose this time of year, but you can still pedal rather quickly back to Five Mile Meadow Road. A left and we dropped back down to Rt. 739 and into the parking area.
Afterward, Mike, Steve and I enjoyed a “hot” cup of coffee at a local deli in Lord’s Valley. I’m gonna breakdown and pick up a Biolight stove. With colder days ahead, it’ll sure come in handy!
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doors – Break on Through
Tuesday, after work, I met up with Eric and John for a night ride on the McDade Trail. I did not want to go home and watch any more of this election. A lengthly spin on the gravel surface was just the right diversion.
A couple of hours of pedaling appeared to be a good idea and it seems as though a few other people agreed. With headlamps mounted, we entered the trail from the Dingmans Falls parking area and rode towards Bushkill. It was still light out as we rode past the General Store and through the corn fields. You know it’s hunting season when your tires are crushing shotgun shells instead of corn. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not sure they’re biodegradable.
It was at times a challenge to keep our bikes on the trail as the leaves were piled a few inches thick in some areas. We decided to turn around at the bridge over Tom’s Creek. We turned our headlamps on and pedaled toward home. We laughed most of the way as a descent or sharp turn is not as easy to see at night. I say this because it was me that missed a turn and rode into the woods. Eric did the same, but recovered before he got too far off the trail.
Night time riding is different and although you can’t get lost on an out and back trail, pedaling in the dark helps create the adventure.
I went home, ate, showered and went right to sleep. I wasn’t going to let politics ruin my night. I didn’t find out who won the election until I got to work today. Whether or not your happy with this election, channel your energy by going outside. Ride, hike, paddle or run!
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Blood, Sweat and Tears – Spinning Wheel
On Saturday, I drove down to Philly to attend the Philadelphia Bike Expo. It was advertised as something of a cross between Inter-Bike and The North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Now, I’ve never been to the NAHBS, but I have been to Inter-Bike in Las Vegas, a 3 day show of all the industry has to offer.
The trip served a dual purpose as my wife and I took advantage of the opportunity to spend time with our daughter, who attends University a few blocks from the PA Convention Center. Arriving, finding parking and checking in were a breeze. The girls had shopping on their agenda, so I was on my own.
At check in, I was handed a ballot with all 35 hand made bicycle manufacturers listed. I simply had to pick one and drop it in the box on the way out. On display, were wheels, tires, tools, bike bags, clothing and almost every cycling related product. Hand made bikes were spread, throughout the expo. Two of my favorite bikes on display were from Velo Orange, the Pass Hunter and the Campeur. Although Velo Orange was not on the ballot, their bikes and components are reminiscent of a time when things were rather simple and built to last, with a few modern touches.
After a few hours of checking out the goods, I met the girls for lunch at a fantastic Malaysian restaurant. Afterward, we went back to the convention center to check out a women’s book fair. Way too much estrogen for me, so I snuck back into the bike expo for one more quick look at all the bikes on the ballot. I won’t tell you how I voted, but here are some pics of the ones I thought stood out from the rest.
As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, I try to make the most out of every ride. Today, I met up with John and Eric and raced the moon around the Walpack loop and back to our starting point in Sandyston, NJ.
It was a crisp, mid fall day. A little cold for short sleeves, but too warm for a jacket. Perfect cycling weather! This being the time in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that hunters are roaming the woods and gunshots can be heard throughout the day, it’s a good time for a road ride.
Riding through the Walpack Recreation Area has it’s advantages. Besides the incredible scenery, it’s usually traffic free. Pedaling out, it is always cool to see the Walpack Inn packed with cars and smoke coming from the chimney.
With a few weeks to go before the real cold weather kicks in, I hope to get a few more longer rides in before retiring the road bike for my gravel bike. Who knows, maybe a few more mountain bike rides to get me through the winter.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Styx – Lorelei
Saturday was a magical day for cycling in the Tri-State area, especially The City of Port Jervis. The inaugural Erie 80 Mountain Bike race took place in the brand new Watershed Park Trails & Recreation Area. The trail system is the brainchild of Dejay Birtch, a Port Jervis native. Birtch currently lives in Arizona, but returns frequently to build trails. Dejay, along with TC Crawford, the owner of Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, plus an amazing volunteer trail crew, have carved out over 25 miles of trail. All their hard work was on display yesterday.
The registration and staging area took place in front of and inside the tiki bar at the Erie Hotel and Restaurant. The Race drew over 150 registered riders, a huge number for a 1st year race. The Erie 80 is an 80 kilometer(50 miles) Race. A 40k and 12 mile Fun Race were also offered. It all kicked off at the corner of Front Street and Jersey Avenue and headed up Pike Street, onto Orange Street, a left on Reservior Avenue and into the Watershed.
The volunteers really shined. Every turn was clearly marked, making it easy for all riders to stay on course. The aid station at mile 9 and again at 12 was stocked with energy snacks, water, soda and all kinds of goodies from Honey Stinger. Trek Bicycles was on hand to help with repairs.
On a personal note, it was really cool to hit the trails with riders of all abilities, from extremely fast racers to average MTB enthusiasts to road riders, like me who were finding out just how hard mountain biking in a densely wooded forest can be.
Three miles in and we climbed to the top of Point Peter, treating the riders to a majestic view of Port Jervis, the Delaware river and the Catskill, Pocono and Kittatinny mountain ranges.
I rode with friends, Jim from Long Island and Sean and Pete from South Jersey. At mile 6, Sean shredded his rear tire on a rock. He booted the tire with a candy wrapper and rode on for a little over a mile, when the hole proved to be too much for the foil wrapper to seal. From that point, he walked to the aid station, where Trek/Bontrager had a bin full of tires, tubes and a little of everything to keep the riders going. A quick tire change and Sean was back on the trail. Everyone endured a little pain yesterday, whether it was of the mechanical kind or physical, but it was well worth it.
The terrain was a mixed bag of hills, smooth trail and some rock gardens, until we re-entered after exiting the mile 12 aid station. From there, it was rock garden after rock garden, really challenging riders. In between the rocks and hills, were bench cut trails, that carved they’re way through the hills, while overlooking streams that flowed from reservoir to reservoir. Oh, and least I forget the amazing views of all three reservoirs.
The Race came to an end right where it all started, complete with a professional finish line, a beer garden and entertaining finishing ceremony. Don’t miss this race next year. If you don’t currently ride a mountain bike, start training, you won’t be sorry!
Tonight, I review the Bontrager Flare R tail light. I do not work for Bontrager or Trek. I am not paid to pitch their products. If I believe in a product, I simply talk it up. The Flare R is Bontrager’s best tail light, maybe the best tail light ever.
A little over a year ago, I saw a training video on the Flare R. I usually put in a couple thousand miles on the road and always knew that I needed something other than reflective clothing.
The next time I was at the shop, I picked one up and immediately put it on my road bike. It came charged. I couldn’t believe how bright it was. 65 Lumens does not sound like much, but if you value your eyes, don’t look directly into it.
The Flare R has 2 day-time modes and 2 night modes. In day mode: 65 lumens the Flare R lasts for 4.25 hours. At 35 lumens, it last for 10 hours! In night mode: 65 lumens last an impressive 23 hours and at 5 lumens steady, it lasts for 21 hours. It has a battery save mode at 5%, so it won’t die on the way home. Oh, and the Flare R can be seen from 2 km away, day or night.
After a year plus, and a lot of abuse, the Flare R is as bright and effective as it was right out of the box. It has protected me on the road and the trail during hunting season. The Flare R comes with a USB cable for speedy charges, a quick connect bracket to fit around your seat post and a seat bag clip. It pares easily with Bontrager’s Transmitter handlebar remote.
With all the technology that comes our way, a bicycle tail light gets little attention, but it’s the one thing that I will not go on the road without!
Every now and then, you are presented with some unexpected free time. What you do with that time is totally up to you. You could do some yard work, catch up on sleep or depending on the weather, crank out some extra miles. I took the day off from work today, to accompany my wife to an out of town, late morning doctor’s appointment. When my alarm went off at the usual 6am, because I forgot to reset it for later, I hopped out of bed, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, splashed some cold water on my face and jumped into my cycling clothes.
I won’t detail my entire ride, just that I pedaled out to Five Mile Meadow Road for a morning gravel spin. I touched Standing Tall Trail and attempted to ride up to Minisink Lake via Flat Ridge Road. That did not happen, as a Road crew was spreading some fresh gravel across the road. The new stuff was too soft, like riding on sand. They said that after Flat Ridge, they were going to hit Five Mile. It will probably be about a week to 10 days before the stone is compacted enough to ride on. I spun around and headed home, satisfied with just over 22 miles. With this week’s Indian Summer still hanging around, any ride is a good ride! Get outside and take advantage!
What’s playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doobie Brothers – China Grove
In two short weeks, the City of Port Jervis, NY will play host to the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race at the Watershed Park Trail System. Since I’ve only gotten one mtb ride in all year, I figured it was time to test my skills with a few miles in the Watershed. I met up with Big John at Reservior #1 at 9am for what we hoped would be an epic day in the woods.
From the parking area, we headed up Reservior Road. Right out of the gate, the loose gravel and dirt road climbs for about 1.6 miles. Nothing steep, but continous as we turned right on Lenni Lenape Trail and continued to climb until Lenape merged with Brant Path and leveled off. Here, we shedded our outer layers and checked the map to make sure we wouldn’t be riding in circles. At the trail head, an encased map of the entire watershed is color coded, enabling the rider to take a snapshot of the map for later reference on the trail. Having already had our share of jeep trails, we went looking for some singletrack.
We made a right on Box Baum Road and after another half mile of gravel, we met up with Kyle, who was leading a group through the trail system. He pointed us into Mahackamack Trail and we hung a left on Lost Bear Trail. Finally, some singletrack. Nothing smooth. A lot of rocks and roots, but it rolled real nice for a couple of miles, looping right back to Box Baum Road and dropping us along the eastern side of Reservior #3. The descent allows for a clear view of the reservior and the Deerpark Dam.
From there, we turned left and enjoyed the rocky decline down Reservior Road. Before hitting Reservior #1 again, we made a left on the Beginner’s Berm and followed it up to Tallulah. Not a good idea. Tallulah is an advanced trail that goes skyward for about 3/4 of a mile. This is where we did some hike a bike. With a left turn at the top on Lenni Lenape, we cruised back down to Reservior Road and dropped back to the parking area.
We did not get to see the entire watershed. Next time, we’ll attempt to hit DeJay Downs and some of the Expert Trails to get a real feel for the place. What I’ve seen so far, the trails are well marked and color coded. As long as you stay on the trail system, it would be pretty hard to get lost. From what I heard, the trails are only half finished. I can’t wait to see what DeJay, TC and crew have in store for the rest of the park!
We finished it off with a feast at Roy’s Corner at Homer’s Restaurant in Port Jervis. According to the Times Herald Record, the original restaurant opened in 1852.
What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, opportunities for road rides begin to dwindle. It’s either early morning rides and that means layering up for the 35-45 degree tempatures or after work rides that finish in the dark.
I knew that I wanted to get a ride in yesterday or today. I tried yesterday and suffered through a mechanical incident that saw me abandon after 3 miles. Today, with renewed vigor, I hoped on my bike at Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed towards Port Jervis. I was aiming for a climb up Point Peter and a loop around River Road, but just as I hit Matamoras, I rode right into a pothole.
As soon as I heard the loud pop, I knew I had a flat and pulled over to assess the damage. Realizing that the sidewall of my tire was ripped, I had to figure out a way to repair the tire enough to get me back to the shop. After pulling out the old tube, I took a piece of cardboard out of my seat bag and placed it inside the tire, over the tear. I replaced the tube and blew up the tire to about 50lbs of pressure. I did not want to blow the tire up to capacity as I was afraid the tube would come through. It was just enough to pedal the 5.5 miles back to Milford. Once at the shop, I immediately changed the tire and headed back out to finish what I started.
With daylight at a premium, I decided that quantity was not as important as quality. I rode through Milford and made a right on Foster Hill Road for a 2+ mile climb. Foster Hill starts out rather steep, levels off in sections, gets steeper in other sections and continually climbs right up to the Malibu Dude Ranch, an 800 acre resort that offers old west style vacations, horse back rides on scenic trails and a rustic restaurant and tavern.
Getting up the hill is the work, stopping at the ranch is the reward. Horses come right up to the fence, like they’re greeting you as you enter. I took a quick photo op and zipped up for the descent. At the bottom of the hill, I took Pear Alley back to the shop. I almost gave in and called it a day when I flatted. I’m so glad I regrouped and made it happen.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner
The City of Port Jervis Holds Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race in City Park before Halloween
Port Jervis, NY – The city is working hard at showcasing the new trail system in the newly opened Watershed Park which will host the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race on October 29th. The race will have three distance options for participants including a 12 mile, 25 mile, and 50 mile course. Trail crews have been working hard to build a fun, challenging, fast, and technical course attracting mountain bike riders and racers of all abilities. Racers will face single track terrain with rocks, logs, roots, and water crossings.
The start of the race will take place on Front Street with a police escort to Brewers Reservoir. From there, racers will give it their personal best and finish the course in the fastest time possible. Racers will be categorized by age, bicycle type, and ability level. Prizes will be distributed to all of the top 3 finishers within each category.
The City of Port Jervis has had a tremendous amount of help and support with the organization of the Erie 80 race. Dejay Birtch is heading off the event and has designed the course. Other sponsors include Action Bikes and Outdoor, Polar Bottle, Dark Horse Cycles, Fox N Hare Brewing Co, Joe Fix Its, BTI, Honey Stinger, Swift Wick Apparel, Newburgh Brewing, Dumonde Tech Racing Oils, Stan’s No Tubes, Port Jervis Brick Oven Pizza, Advocate Cycles, and Shop Rite of Montague.
There is no better way to take full advantage of the incredible fall foliage than a bike ride. On this picture perfect day, a gravel ride was in order. So I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor for a late afternoon ride through the Zimmerman Farm and the Conashaugh Horse Trail.
We left the shop and cruised through Milford, to Milford Beach and onto the McDade Trail. At Raymondskill Road, we hopped onto Rt. 209 and made a right at the second Zimmerman Road entrance. Zimmerman Road goes through the Zimmerman Farm and onto horse trails that lead up to Raymondskill Falls. We made a right at the horse trail and went through two creek crossings before climbing an extremely steep and winding hill with loose gravel that made the climb doable at best. I walked up the middle section as my rear wheel was all over the place.
After crossing a rather deep, dried up creek bed, we beared left and that’s where the real climbing began. The roadway, full of gullys from water run off, became an obstacle course that just kept going up. Somehow, we both managed to grind it out as we capped the hill and turned left on Conashaugh Road, a hard packed pea gravel road that goes from Milford Road to Long Meadow Chapel Road.
After about a mile, we went around the gate and onto the Conashaugh Horse Trail. This was new territory for me. Immediately, we dropped down they rail, which was just a bit wider than single track. The trail surface contained wooden steps, every 50 feet or so for almost a half mile. The road came down in a swampy valley and went back up for a little bit and dropped back down to Zimmerman Road, right at the driveway of the Marie Zimmerman Estate. We cruised onto the property and rode around the house and through the gardens.
We pedaled out of the he estate, down Zimmerman Road and made a left on Rt. 209 and back to the McDade Trail. Finally, some flat terrain. Although we were moving pretty quickly we talked all the way back as we rode from daylight to darkness, from open trail to hidden forest. Rolling off the trail, we rode past the Metz ice house and down the gravel trail along the river (Delaware River). The trail, only a half mile long, ends at a steep, paved hill that puts you right in the middle of Milford.
Every bike ride gives you the opportunity to explore new areas. Today, we were lucky enough to find a new loop through the horse trails and see another part of the Zimmerman Farm. Here’s some more pics:
If you ride anywhere near Milford, you’ve heard of the The Knob. If you’ve even been through Milford at night, you’ve seen The Knob. The Knob sits atop the Raymondskill Ridge in the Cliff Park section of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Cliff Trail and the Quarry Trail intersect the Knob Trail. There are more than eight miles of Trail to connect in the Cliff Park area. Any one of the climbs rewards the rider or hiker with a fantastic view. In fact, the cover photo for this blog was one I took about 3 years ago, after hiking to the top.
Today, I left from the Action Bikes and Outdoor and accessed the Milford Knob trailhead at the North Contact Station. After climbing for about a mile, I made a left on the Quarry Trail and a right on the Cliff Trail and rode up to the Knob. I pedaled down the single track along the ridge to also get a view of the Milford Bridge, the Delaware River and the vast corn fields along the river.
I descended into the Milford Cemetary, turned around and rode back up and around to the North Contact Station. My aim was to ride out to Raymonskill Road and Jump on the McDade Trail for an easy spin back to Milford. I lost my navigational skills for a moment and ended up coming out the same way I went in. I rode down Rt. 209 to Raymondskill and entered the McDade Trail.
The Knob is a nice easy hike or bike ride that can be started from anywhere in town. There are some steep sections that require low gears or possibly a little hike a bike.
Whats Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Supertramp – The Logical Song
Rain, rain go away. After five straight days of rain, enough already! Anyway, I got a small window today to get out and get the blood flowing through my legs again. I had more than the required recovery period, following last weekend’s monster ride.
I decided to do a road ride and stay out of the mud and puddles that cover the gravel roads and trails.
Matt at Action Bikes and Outdoor, suggested a route that covered some familiar roads and some new ones. I headed out under the dark grey skies at around 3:30pm. After navigating Milford, I pedaled across the bridge into Montague, NJ and up Deckertown Turnpike. Deckertown gets vertical immediately. You climb for just about 2 miles. A right on New Road and nice spin through the quiet Autum landscape. As you get to Rt. 206, Flatbrook Farm is on the left with their farm stand on the right side of the road, serving up fruits and veggies, fresh off the farm. It seems that this time of year, farm stands pop up all over the place, one of the perks of The Autum season.
A short ride on 206 and a left on Hotalen Road. Hotalen is a shaded street with very little traffic. It comes to a fork at the top. I missed the turn and went up the hill. At the top, I checked the map on my phone and spun around. I should have veered right at the fork and descended Back down to Rt. 206. I wanted to get off the main drag, so I turned left on Bridges Way and right on Layton Hainsville Road.
After a flat mile, I hung a left on Jager Road and climbed up the backside and dropped down, making a sharp right on Old Mine Road. You can reach speeds of over 45mph on Jager, just be careful as Old Mine comes up rather quickly.
Old Mine Road is the quintessential country Road. The only problem this time of day is that the shadows on the road surface make it extremely difficult to see all the pot holes, even on this overcast day. So, I soft pedaled all the way to the Milford Bridge. As luck would have it, I got to ride about 10 mph, right next to a deer that was trotting along side of me for about 1000 feet. Not spooked, she just eased her way back into the woods. Crossing the bridge, I caught a glimpse of the early fall foliage on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. I hope the weather cooperates and allows me a few rides a week this month as I have signed up for the Erie 80, a 50 Mile Mountain bike race in the Port Jervis Watershed trail system, on October 29th. My lack of Mtb skills it are making me think I might have gotten over my head a bit on this one. We’ll see. I’ll detail that race very soon in another post.
What’s playing: (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Argent – Hold you head up
Blood pudding, Guinness and a little ‘Luck of the Irish’. For this installment of the Dew Files we sent our intrepid wanderer to Ireland for a St Patrick’s day exploit. Rather than letting Dew loose to partake in the revelry and libations in Dublin, we put him on a fully loaded Sutra LTD to […]
On Sunday, I traveled to Honesdale, PA with Eric, Matt, Bob and Kyle, to do the Maple City Century, a mixed terrain 100 miler that consisted of about 85% gravel and dirt roads and just over 9,000 feet of climbing. The route brings you through most of rural Wayne County and borders the Delaware River and New York State in several sections. If you haven’t been to this part of Northeastern PA, check it out, it’s beautiful, especially during the fall foliage season.
100, 62 and 30 mile options are offered. Each route different, but challenging in their own way. The 30 mile option gave riders a glimpse of what pedaling in Wayne County is all about, on mostly dirt and gravel roads.The 62 and 100 mile routes include long, steep climbs through farm land, logging roads and every kind of back road you can imagine.
It was chilly at the start, about 36 degrees, but warmed up to the mid 60’s at mid day. I did not get a chance to sample the 30 and 62 mile routes. I was up in the air about whether to do the 62 or 100 but made a game time decision to push through the 100 mile course. I was rewarded for my efforts with amazing views, awesome rest stops and a chance to ride with some fantastic people. Matt and Bob rode the 62 miler as Matt took care of repairs for the riders at the start and had to wait for the masses to depart. Kyle and Eric joined me on this epic journey.
The 100, left from behind the Post Office in Honesdale at 8:20am and rolled through town with a Police escort. 2 miles later, the gravel adventure began. I compartmentalized the ride into 4 sections, divided by the 3 rest stops. The first section was hilly to say the least. But, anyone who cycles in Northeastern, PA knows there are no flat roads here. Just ups and downs and ups and downs.
The ride organizer made all routes available for download to a GPS enabled device. Cue sheets were also made available. However, the course was expertly marked out with easily visible color coded signs at every turn. At mile 33, we arrived at the first rest stop and were greeted with friendly volunteers and an array of energy bars, gels, fruit, trail mix, water and energy drink. Volunteers signed in all riders, to ensure they reached the checkpoint safely.
The next section began with a hill, just up the road from the rest stop. Another 15 or so miles or gravel and we hit Brown Trout Trail. This extremely technical, section lasted for five miles. With the side of a mountain to the right and a cliff to the left, the six foot wide trail seemed suited for a full suspension MTB, Fat Bike or ATV. With a waterfall coming right through, a washed out portion of the trail required a little hike a bike. This was the most challenging part of the course.
Just as we pushed off Brown Trout Trail, we arrived at rest stop #2. What a welcome sight after bouncing around for more than 40 minutes. After filling bottles and devouring everything in sight, we saddled up and headed out into the beautiful countryside. We saw some odd old homes, rustic churches and more than a few cattle.
At mile 75, we pulled into rest stop #3. This seemed like a great place to sit down and stretch a bit. With only 25 miles to go, finishing certainly seemed like a reality. Just a few more hills and a lot more gravel!
I kept telling myself that the big climbs were behind us. That didn’t work very well as hill after hill punished every weary leg that pedaled on. I have to say that Eric really got me through this ride. He kept me going when I wasn’t feeling too good. As for Kyle, we only saw him for a few seconds at the start. Every time we hit a sketchy section of trail, I did imagined Kyle laughing and riding right through. It was still light out when we rolled back into Honesdale, 8 hours and 47 minutes later. A quick clothing change at the car and a brief walk to the Irving Cliff Brewery for a well deserved post ride feast.
Kudos to Ride Director Zach Wentzel and his staff for putting on a first class ride. The course markers were spot on, the rest stops were fully stocked and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. The course was everything it was supposed to be and more. It’s already on the calendar for next year. September 24th, 2017. Save the date!
It’s 8am on a Sunday Morning. I’ve just unloaded my bike from the top of my car. I’m doing some last minute checks to make sure I have enough food and water to get me through the day, as I’m about to embark on a 30-35 mile bike ride through mostly gravel roads in the Delaware State Forest. That day, I rode through the state forest, onto the pavement for a couple of miles and back into the forest, with a couple of diversions on dirt roads and grassy trails to end with 32 miles of an all road adventure.
This type of riding is most commonly called “gravel grinding”. Some call it “adventure cycling” and some refer to it as “all road riding”. Whatever you call it, it’s just plain fun.
Gravel Grinding has been popular in the midwest for the better part of a decade. Many of the big gravel races in the US are found there because of the extensive network of gravel and dirt roads that sprawl across the region. Here in the northeastern part of the country, gravel grinding is catching on. In this area alone, we have access to numerous gravel roads that are part of the state forest as well as the McDade Trail, which is a 32 mile gravel and dirt trail, connecting Milford to Stroudsburg as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along with many other off the beaten path options.
The best part about gravel grinding is that you don’t need a specific bike to get you going. You can pedal across gravel or dirt on a mountain bike, road bike, cyclocross bike, dual sport bike, comfort bike, whatever, just make sure you have enough tread on your tires to shed a little mud and stone. However, most bicycle companies are now producing “gravel bikes”. A good choice for people who just want to have 1 bike. A bike that allows a lot of options for two wheeled adventure. You can hit the gravel, ride in a gran fondo, throw racks and fenders on for loaded touring or just use it as an everyday commuter. Action Bikes and Outdoor, right in the heart of Milford, stock several models of gravel bikes, along with every type of bike and accessory as well as kayaks, paddles and most things for the outdoor enthusiast. Stop in, they are happy to offer advice on where to ride. They even have great paper maps and resources to help you on your journey.
The beauty of gravel grinding is it gets you out of traffic and puts you right in the middle of nature. There’s no need to hammer through the woods. Slow down, enjoy the scenery and take in everything that nature has to offer. You won’t regret it. In fact, there seems to be a growing number of riders in our area that love having the opportunity to pedal in areas that until recently seemed foreign. On both sides of the Delaware River, there are trails and roads that lead to waterfalls, farms, corn fields, breathe taking views, wildlife sightings, streams, creeks and lakes.
If you are up for the adventure, try one of the areas local gravel races. The Maple City Century, on September 25, 2016 starts in Honesdale and takes you through beautiful and scenic Wayne County on mostly dirt and gravel roads. In October, Action Bikes and Outdoor sponsor the Erie 80. An 80K gravel, dirt and paved MTB ride that shows you all
that Port Jervis has to offer. If you are not looking for an organized race, there is usually a group riding from somewhere. Mostly from the shop parking lot.
So if I’ve peaked your interest just a little bit, get out and pedal a quiet country road, you’ll be planning your next gravel ride before you load your bike back on the car.
Getting out today was harder than I thought. I got up at 6:30am to meet Eric for a morning ride. I took the dog for a walk and got wet as it rained hard for about 10 minutes. I text Eric and opted for a few more hours sleep over a wet ride. He manned up and went out for a rain ride. I waited until 3pm, when it was dry and the forecast looked clear to venture out into the woods.
I’m planning to ride in the Maple City Century next Sunday in Honesdale, PA. It’s a 100 mile gravel adventure with lots of climbing. So, I wanted to just get a few extra miles in on some loose gravel roads to help prepare for the event.
I rode out of my driveway and up through my community, then veered into the woods via a deer trail and onto Five Mile Meadow Road. I haven’t been on a bike since Tuesday, so I took it easy as I let my legs warm up to the hills. I headed out to Silver Lake Road and climbed up the monster hill before turning left onto Flat Ridge Road.
About halway up Flat Ridge, I met up with Bob, another local cyclist that was also training for the Maple City Century. He was doing almost he same ride that I was doing today. After, pedaling up to Minisink Lake and turning around, I came back down Flat Ridge and took Bob’s advice when I turned right on Coon Swamp Road. Coon Swamp is gravel and loose packed dirt. It continues for a couple of miles and comes to an end at the top of a hill, with a cool camping spot, over looking Coon Swamp Lake.
Coming out of Coon Swamp, just before I got back to Flat Ridge, I was startled as I noticed a black shape in the roadway. It was a huge black bear. I fumbled for my phone to take a photo, but he scampered away as I tried to get closer. Probably better off for me. It never ceases to amaze me what beautiful creatures they are.
Back on Flat Ridge, I rode on, knowing how lucky I am to have this incredible state game land, with all the gravel emergency access roads, right in my backyard. I descended down Silver Lake Road and hung a left back onto Five Mile Meadow Road. From there, I pedaled through the deer trail and home.
I’ve written about this area a few times before, but I felt compelled, as a new road or trail, especially one that ends high above a lake, providing superior views, needs me to tell you about it, so you can go ride it and see for yourself!
What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Babys – Isn’t It Time
The final day of the TDF is always bittersweet. I’m happy to get home and get back to my daily routine, but I’m also sad that it will be another year before I get to see all the awesome people that I have the privelage to be associated with for the last 15 years.
We started with a transport over to Liberty State Park in Jersey City. After a few wrenches were turned and photos were snapped, we were led out by a multitude of New Jersey Police agencies with a fantastic escort through Jersey City, Hoboken, Fort Lee and all the wonderful cities and towns along the Jersey side of the Hudson River. What came next was unusual. The Port Authority Police Department along with the Fort Lee Police Department and the NYPD, shut down the George Washington Bridge to escort us into the greatest city on the world.
The riders were given the entire right lane of the bridge. Most charity tours are relegated to the bike path along side the bridge. We snaked into Manhattan and eventually onto Riverside Drive for a cool ride above the river and down the west side. We hit the Henry Hudson Parkway and again had a lane shut down for us. For 15 years, we have been treated well by our own department, but never to this extent.
Dropping down to 12th Avenue, we were given free passage all the way to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial. After a moment of silence to remember all victims of that horrible day, we pedaled over to Battery Park, where we were treated to a ceremony, honoring our efforts.
As the TDF came to a close, we said our goodbyes and expressed our hope to see everyone next year. Our year end meeting is in October, where we will vote on how all monies raised will be donated. We will also finalize our route for next year and immediately start planning for the 2017 event. You can check out what we do and how we do it by dropping by our web page at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. I leave you with yet, a few more photos:
This may have been the best weather we have ever had for the Tour de Force. Low 80’s and absolutely no wind. The road was flat as can be for most of the way. Really, things could not have gone better today.
Normally, I would take this 1 day that I ride to hammer as hard as I can and finish as fast as possible. But, today, I decided to ride with my pal and ex-partner, Mike and his son Sean. Mike is a unique rider. He is the only person to have ridden every mile of every year for the first 15 years of the Tour de Force.
We pedaled out of Island Beach State Park in Tom’s River, NJ and rode along the coast for the first 35 miles. When we reached Belmar, we rode up on the Boardwalk for a few hundered feet. From mile 38 to mile 49, the route took us onto the Atlantic Highlands Rail Trail. A scenic fitness path, it kept the riders off the busy Jersey Shore streets.
A few miles after coming off the trail, we were treated to a series of hills, that to be honest were just about the only inclines on the route. At the top of one of the hills, a 9/11 memorial sat in a garden, overlooking Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Highlands.
We cruised along the rest of the course together and enjoyed the sea air, all thanks to the incredible effort of our support team. The sag support and rest stops are second to none. These volunteers, are what make this well oiled machine run so smoothly. The local Police Departments took care of the busy intersections, allowing our riders to pass through saftely.
Pulling into the beach in Old Bridge, NJ, where the riders grouped up to be escorted over the Liberty Bridge, I was happy to have had the opportunity to ride today. I jumped into a car and headed to the hotel in Woodbridge, our finish line for the day, to get ready to greet the riders with medals to commerate their amazing efforts. Now, I leave you with a few more pics of this amazing day:
What a beautiful day. Low 80’s and sunny with just a little wind. The day started with a ferry ride from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, NJ. Getting everyone on the ferry was a challenge with all the support vehicles, but the ferry crew was more than up to the task. The Cape May Ferry is always a nice trip. It gives everyone a chance to talk. Night time is filled with food, spirits and tired bodies. So, a little diversion in the morning, never hurts.
The ride was short, only 54 miles. Out to Rt. 9 with a tour of historic Cape May. The riders pedaled through the fantastic sea air for the better part of 3-4 hours, ending in a parking lot near the Tropicanana Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ.
Days 1 and 4, riders wear the current year’s jersey. Day’s 2 ans 3, custom jerseys from hometowns and various teams the have been created for the ride, rule the day.
A short day callls for a short post. Here are a few photos from today:
Well, day 1 is upon us. This is the day that first time riders, will find out if they trained hard enough, prepared properly and packed everything they will need for this 4 day event. Each rider, raises a minimum amount to gain entry into the ride. Even the support staff have to meet a fundraising goal. Riders and support staff, come from all corners of the country.
In 2002, our original starting point was the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and we rode to the World Trade Center in New York City. We have done that ride as well as the reverse route several times. We have also ridden from New York to Boston (Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park) and Boston to New York. This year we decided to start at RFK Stadium in Washington and ride to the NYC Police Memorial, around the corner from the World Trade Center.
The Metropolitan Police Department escorted the ride out from RFK to the Capitol and around the District and handed us off to the Pince Georges County Police as we crossed the Maryland line. I drive a support vehicle for 3 out of 4 days, as the logistics of the tour have not allowed myself or my colleagues the opportunity to ride the entire way for several years now. I plan to ride day 3 as that appears to be the lightest traffic day with little to no problems all the way to the finish.
Once we hit the first rest stop at mile 22, we led the riders out 8 more miles and released them at their own pace. Immediately, the pack went from a long sea of blue to a spread out group with each rider finding his or her cadence. We keep cars with the front of the pack as well as a sweep vehicle to trail the last rider. Several support vehicles, buses and trucks are along the route to lend support to riders in need. Mechanics ride back and forth along the route to assist with any issues (mostly tube punctures).
Mile 40 at the Maryland Transportation Authority was the lunch stop. (The tour provides breakfast and lunch each day as well as 4 nights lodging in superior hotels and a banquet on the 3rd night). After crossing the Bay Bridge, riders head over to Rt. 404 to complete the last 60 miles to Rehoboth Beach, our destination for day 1.
Rt. 404 is a long, flat section of road that winds through corn fields in rural Maryland and Delaware. Farms stands are everywhere, offering local fruit and vegetables, giving us the freshest supplies for our remaining rest stops. When the last rider reached the hotel, the party began. The entire parking lot is lined with TDF trailers, with just the right amount of beverages to rehydrate our weary riders.
In a prior post, I mentioned a ride called the Tour de Force. This is a 4 day ride from Washington, DC to NYC on or about September 11th. All money raised is donated directly to the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty. I, along with my brother Mike and my partner Mike founded the tour in 2002. Tomorrow, we will embark on our 15th annual version of this incredibly fullfilling journey.
In 2001, I was a NYC Police Detective, assigned to the Bronx Robbery Squad. Immediatly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, we were mobilized. My squad commandeered a city bus, cleaned out a Bronx supermarket and we rushed to the scene. I won’t even try to explain the horror that was Ground Zero. We were there for the better part of 2 weeks. In 20+ years in the NYPD, I learned a lot about people. But nothing could have prepared me for how this cowardly act could have such a profound affect on my life and how this amazing country that I have the privelage to live in, would change forever.
Anyway, last night, I arrived here in Falls Church, Virginia to prepare for today’s registration process. At 3pm, the buses from New York are scheduled to arrive at the hotel, carrying the bulk of our 300 riders. Tomorrow we start our first leg of the tour with a 107 mile ride. But, today, I was able to get out at 9am for a 30 mile pedal around the W&OD Trail, a paved rail trail the runs through Washington and the surrounding suburbs.
A couple miles in, I got turned around as the trail ended and went into downtown Falls Church before picking back up again a few blocks away. A woman named Jennifer, who runs a trade association in the Washington, DC area, was kind enough to show me a loop that went around Reagan National Airport, through Arlington, Virginia and back around to Falls Church.
The W&OD is an urban rail trail for sure. However, it runs along the Potomac River in spots and encompasses just enough local park land with beautiful wooden bridges to give it a lively feel. After about 30 miles, I veered off the trail a headed back to the hotel, ready to tackle the day’s events.
Tomorrrow, I’ll have some great photos of the start and I’ll provide some more details about the Tour de Force.
The bikepacking bug came biting again. Last week, I received a message from Will and Kyle that they were planning an overnighter in Promised Land State Park. The thought of a fire, dehydrated food and camp coffee, oh yeah, I was in. I’ve been cultivating my next overnighter on the bike since my last trip. Will plotted out a route from Shohola, so all we had to do was pack, pedal and relax.
I planned on taking my Van Dessel WTF again with my large seatbag, frame bag and handlebar bag. Knobby tires on a route that included 90% pavement was probably not the smartest idea I’ve had. I went with a Camelback instead of a backpack, because I freed up some room with a hammock instead of a tent.
Friday came and the weather was perfect for a summer outing. At 85 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night, with no rain in the forecast, we were able to pack light as we did not need to consider the thought of a storm. I met Will at Bridge Park, on Twin Lakes Road in Shohola. Kyle had a prior obligation and left from home. We rode to Rt. 6 and pedaled up to Rt. 434(Well Road) and made a left. We climbed up and over Rt. 739 where the road changed to Blooming Grove Road. As soon as you cross over Rt. 739, you enter the twilight zone. Well, not really, but it certainly seemed like life slowed down a bit.
I think we saw one or two cars, the entire time on Blooming Grove Road. The landscape included quiet, country homes, set way back off the road and farms situated on lush green grass with well maintained barns. As we crossed Rt. 402 and came into the town of Blooming Grove, we passed what appeared to be the only commercial establishment, the Blooming Grove Tavern. The parking lot was at full capacity.
We made a left on Egypt Road and were treated to a really nice red barn, a waterwheel and a lazy creek. Egypt Road seemed to go slightly up for the entire 3 miles. A left hand turn at the end, put us on Rt. 390, the main thoroughfare leading into Promised Land. We rolled up and down Rt. 390 for 6 miles and made a right on Lower Lake Road. We dropped down the narrow park road for 2 miles to our campsite. As we pulled up, Kyle was already there waiting to tell us about the alternate route he took on mostly dirt roads.
We dismounted, began to unpack and setup camp. I chose to go with a hammock this time, instead of a tent, so my setup was fairly easy and quick. After our last trip, TC from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, highly recommmended a hammock and I don’t think I’ll ever go back in a tent again.
We collected wood and fired up our camp stoves to get ready for a well deserved dinner after a hard ride with over 2,200 feet of climbing on loaded gravel bikes. By the time we finished eating, the fire was roaring and we shared some laughs. I indulged in a little red wine (Sangiovese), that I transported in a steel growler on the front fork of my bike. By 10pm, exhausted, I retired to my hammock and pulled the bug fly over my head and slipped into a deep sleep.
Again, I had to work the next day, so I woke up early and packed up my gear as I boiled water. After securing everything to my bike, I gulped down a hot cup of coffee and headed out. I snaked up Lower Lake Road and out on Rt. 390. That early in the morning, the traffic was a lot lighter than the previous evening.
About halway home, I had to stop and take a picture at the Blooming Grove Tavern. The terrain was a lot less hilly in this direction and when I hit Rt. 739 I turned right and rode directly to my house. Another trip in the books. The next one will have to be away from a campground as camping in the deep woods provides a unique challenge that begs to be explored.
What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Wolf – Lights Out